Benefits of training in a swim spa (Fitness, strength, recovery and more)

Looking for a new fitness routine? How about aquafitness – it’s exercise but in the pool! In this article, physical therapist Dr Rick McAvoy explains the benefits of water exercise and working out in a pool or swim spa.

With a pool in your backyard, you can exercise from the comfort and privacy of your own home. With a swim spa, you’ll also enjoy the benefits of powerful jets which create a current for you to work against.

As Dr Rick McAvoy explains below, your swim spa is more than a place to beat the summer heat. By exercising or training in water, you can also increase your strength and mobility, rehabilitate and even prevent injuries, leaving you moving and feeling better for longer. Keep reading to learn more.

Watch: What is a swim spa and how does it work?

What is aquatic training?

Aquatic training is any form of activity performed in water that contributes to our physical and mental health and wellbeing.

There are a number of different activities you can do to create an effective aquatic training routine for yourself. You don’t even need to be a ‘good’ swimmer to get the benefits of aquatic training.

There are plenty of standing or ‘vertical’ training options including walking or jogging, specific movements using props or simply the natural resistance provided by the water.

Aquatic training can be done in varying depths of water and at varying levels of intensity, so anyone can do it.

Swim spa for strength training

Water creates natural resistance for our bodies, in a similar way as you might use weights for resistance on land.

But in the water, resistance is applied in every direction, so we have to use more muscles at once to move and stay balanced.

Even the most basic exercise such as walking in the water improves your balance, coordination, trains the core muscles and increases your flexibility and strength.

I like to say that water is the great equaliser. The harder you push in the water, the harder the water pushes back. So, no matter what fitness level you are, as long you are working your hardest, the water will always give you a great workout.

When we functionally train to increase our strength and stability in the water, we can be stronger and move more easily when we’re out of the water.

The propulsion jets on a swim spa are perfect for adding an extra resistance layer to your aquatic training – although you can still get a good workout without them. Plus, given you can adjust the temperature of your swim spa, you can train in the water all year round.

If you're interested in strength-based aquafitness, you may find this article on power training in a swim spa helpful.

"Because water is buoyant, it’s easier on our joints."
Dr Rick McAvoy

Swim spa for injury prevention and rehabilitation

Human beings are creatures of habit, and over time our bodies adapt to repeated movements and postures. This often leads to muscle imbalances and joint injuries.

The classic example these days is tight shoulders, neck and chest muscles from being hunched over our computers and phones.

When we get in the water, we are less loaded by gravity. This allows us to retrain our bodies for better, pain-free movement in a way we can’t do on land.

You could say training in the water literally ‘cleans’ our movement – helping to reduce imbalances and prevent injuries out of the water. Learn how to improve balance with a swim spa in this article.

This makes getting in the water an excellent option for people who have injuries, joint problems, or are getting back into fitness after a break.

It can also be used much earlier in the rehabilitation process because, unlike on land, where gravity and momentum still influence our movement and increases the potential risk for injury, water is low impact, so the chances of injury are significantly lower.

"Water provides positive benefits to our mental wellbeing and it is an amazing stress reliever."
Dr Rick McAvoy

Swim spa and water excercise for mental wellbeing

One of the most important things water provides is the positive benefit to our mental wellbeing.

Water is an amazing stress reliever. The pressure of water naturally reduces our heart rate and increases blood flow, making us feel relaxed. How often do you get out of the water and feel worse than when you got in?

If you combine the therapeutic properties of water with the massage jets in a swim spa or spa pool, or exercise and movement, you have a potent recipe for healing and reducing stress and tension.

Meet Dr Rick McAvoy

Dr Rick McAvoy is a physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning coach.

He has specialised in aquatic physical therapy and sports performance for over 25 years.

Dr McAvoy creates individualised aquatic training programs and consults with clients globally to help them get the most from their swim spas and plunge pools. Contact Dr McAvoy for your personal training program.

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