Much like during space travel, your body in water weighs only a fraction of what it does on land, which is one of the reasons aquatic activities like water aerobics and deep water running are so popular. The buoyancy of the water reduces the impact on your body by as much as 90 percent. This means you can stretch, tone and get a vigorous, heart-healthy workout without the added stress on your joints, bones and tissues. The decreased force not only results in fewer injuries like ankle sprains and muscle tears, but it also eases the load on your heart, particularly when the water is cooler than the outside temperature in which you'd normally run. In addition, the reduced effects of exercising in water allow you to train for longer periods with more difficult intervals while shortening recovery time between sessions. The benefits of deep water running are especially favorable for older people, pregnant women and cardiac patients.
One of the biggest groups of deep water runners, however, is people recovering from injuries. As a non-weight-bearing exercise, deep water running is an oft-prescribed rehabilitation method for common injuries like stress fractures and torn ligaments. This therapy is great for people with lower back pain and other symptoms that exclude traditional exercises like walking or jogging. John Moe, a masters runner from Canada, was a prime candidate for deep water running after his plantar fasciitis kept him from his normal road workouts. After deep water running therapy, he placed second in his age group at the Boston Marathon that year [source: Water Works Performance: Success]. Being injured doesn't mean your fitness routine has to stop; simply take your workout to the pool instead.
Deep water running isn't for everyone, though. Some people find the lack of scenery -- compared to that of running outdoors -- too boring. Others don't like how jogging in water feels like moving in slow motion compared to the speed of jogging down the street. But for most, the pros outweigh the cons.
Check out the next page for lots more information about deep water running.
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