Your Guide to Everything Aquatic Exercise and Water Yoga

We often think of swimming pools, hot tubs and swim spas as places for relaxation and rejuvenation, but did you know that they can also be used to enhance your workout routine? In fact, water yoga and aquatic exercise have several benefits beyond simply improving your fitness. If you’re looking for a great way to get fit in your own backyard- look no further than your pool or spa.

Like the idea of aquatic exercise but have no idea where to start? We’ve got you covered! This post will go over everything from the benefits of this type of exercise, and how to get started. We’ll also give you a list of exercises and yoga poses that will inspire you to get out there today.

Benefits of Aquatic Exercise

It’s no secret that exercising regularly has many benefits. These include reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight and improves muscular strength, mobility, and bone health.

If you’re tired of the gym, we have good news! There are plenty of benefits to doing some- or all- of your physical activity in your pool, hot tub or swim spa. Here are just a few of the reasons why an aquatic exercise is an excellent option.

It Protects Your Joints

For one, exercising in water has a much lower impact compared to exercising on land. This is because it takes the pressure off your bones, joints, and muscles by minimizing the effect of gravity and weight due to its buoyant forces.

This is good news for people who struggle with achy joints, arthritis, fibromyalgia, limited mobility, or are recovering from an injury. In other words, aquatic exercise puts less stress on your joints and tissues, meaning that you can exercise without pain or fear of injury.

Provides Greater Resistance

Aqua exercise provides greater resistance because water is denser than air. Greater resistance means that your muscles need to work harder when doing an exercise underwater, helping you tone up without using weights.

If you have mobility issues, gentle resistance from the water during exercise can help you improve your range of motion.

Hydrotherapy & Hydromassage

As an added bonus, exercising in water also has therapeutic benefits. When you work out in a hot tub or swim spa, the heat of the water relaxes muscles, reducing muscle tension and easing joint pain. Bubbles from the jets may also increase circulation, helping to speed up healing and injury recovery.

In general, if you suffer from muscle stiffness, doing aquatic yoga may be more effective at improving your flexibility because hydromassage will help loosen up tight muscles while relieving soreness. 

Benefits of Water Yoga

While you can do a variety of cardio and strength exercises in your hot tub or swim spa, water yoga is one of the most beneficial. Water yoga is a full-body workout that helps improve your strength, balance, and mobility.

Like traditional yoga, it has many health benefits including reducing stress and anxiety, improving your muscular strength and endurance, and promoting full-body relaxation that can help with sleep patterns and natural energy levels.

Performing water yoga can elevate your session even further. The warm water improves circulation which can help ease inflammation in your muscles and joints. It also helps your muscle loosen and relax so that you can get even more out of your yoga poses.

Getting Started with Aquatic Exercise

Aside from providing a ton of benefits, working out in your hot tub or swim spa can be a blast. If you’re ready to dip your toes in, here are the steps you should take before getting started with aquatic exercise.

Speak to Your Doctor

It’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor before adopting a new workout routine, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition. While exercise is an important part of adopting a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to know the risks beforehand because exercising in warm water may exacerbate certain symptoms.

If you have any of the following conditions, please speak to your physician before getting started with aquatic exercise:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2)
  • Kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer

Setting Goals

Goal setting is a great way to motivate yourself when starting a new exercise routine, particularly if you haven’t exercised regularly in a while. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned athlete or exercise newbie, you should set some SMART goals.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, instead of making a goal to improve your flexibility (very vague), set a goal to be able to touch your toes in 2 months’ time.

SMART goals are usually ‘outcome goals’ meaning that they focus on the results we want to achieve. These can be motivating on their own, but even more so when paired with ‘process goals.’

As their name suggests, process goals focus on the actions you need to take in order to achieve your outcome goals. For example, a process goal for being able to touch your toes might be something along the lines of stretching for 15 minutes every day.

Start off by setting 1-3 SMART goals and 1-2 process goals for each outcome goal that you set.

Choosing Exercises

As a general rule, it’s best to start with lower intensity exercises and gradually increase the duration or the intensity of your workouts as they start to feel easier. Naturally, you want to choose exercises that align with your goals, but you should also include a variety of exercises to improve your overall fitness. We’ve included several aquatic exercises and yoga poses to help you get a great full-body workout.

YouTube can be a great resource for finding safe and effective aquatic exercises, just be sure to check the person’s credentials. The channel Fitmotivation has a large selection of aquatic exercise videos and tutorials that will inspire you and help you learn how to perform the exercises safely and effectively.

Another thing to consider is what equipment you have available to you. For instance, swim spas offer slightly more options when it comes to choosing exercises, however, you can still get a great full-body workout in a hot tub. Additionally, Pool noodles, ankle weights, webbed gloves, and hand buoys can all be incorporated into your water workout to add resistance and increase intensity.

Here are some aquatic and hot tub exercises ideas to help you get started!

Creating a Workout Routine

Once you’ve chosen your preferred aquatic exercises, it’s finally time to create your workout routine. It’s a good idea to spend a couple of minutes in the water before starting your workout in order to acclimatize to the temperature.

Once acclimatized, you should start your workout off with some light cardio, like water jogging, to get your heart rate up. Then, you should do some dynamic stretches to loosen up any stiff muscles before moving on to your full-body workout or higher intensity cardio session. Afterward, it’s a good idea to cool down with water jogging/ walking and some static stretching or water yoga.

You can also follow an aquatic workout video to help you get into the groove of things.

Preparing for Your Workout

Preparation is the key to having a great workout. Here are a few things you should do before you jump in the water:

  • Review how to do each exercise
  • Assemble any equipment that you need for your workout
  • Adjust the settings in your hot tub. Lower it to around 27 degrees Celsius for the duration of your workout
  • Have a water bottle on hand to prevent dehydration
  • Have a dry towel ready for after

Additionally, you may want to stretch or roll out stiff muscles before your workout to prevent injury. However, the warm water and a good warm-up should help loosen them up as well.

Safety Precautions

Safety is also an important consideration when choosing aquatic exercises. If you are unsure of which exercises you can safely perform in your hot tub or swim spa, consult with a physiotherapist or physician. You should also purchase safety equipment, like slip mats and water shoes, to help prevent falls. 

Finally, if you feel dizzy, light-headed, unable to breathe, or nauseous during your workout, then it may be a sign that you’ve over-exerted yourself in the heat. If this is the case, stop exercising immediately. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention. 

Aquatic Exercises for Your Hot Tub Workout

There’s an incredible variety of muscle-building aquatic exercises to help you boost your fitness. Here are just a few that you can perform in your hot tub or swim spa for a great full-body workout.

Flutter Kicks 

Start by facing forward and gripping the side of the hot tub. Push off from the bottom of the tub so that your torso and legs extend out perpendicularly to the bottom of the hot tub. Then, initiate the kicking motion starting at the hip, not the knee. Kick faster to increase the intensity of this move.

Reverse Crunches

Start by sitting on the hot tub bench and leaning back slightly, engaging your core. Extend your legs out in front of you and then bring them into your chest. Repeat this motion 10-15 times. You can hold onto the sides of the bench for support.

Tricep Dips

Sit on the edge of the bench with your arms on either side. Straighten and lock your arms while you lift your torso off the bench and walk your legs towards the centre of the hot tub. Keeping your shoulders in line with your hands, slowly bend your elbows backward, lowering your torso in the water. Once your elbows reach 90 degrees, pause for a moment before pressing back upwards to straighten them out.

Lateral Arm Lifts

Stand or kneel so that you are submerged in water up to your shoulders, arms at your sides. Raise your arms out to the side until they are level with your shoulders. Pause for a moment before lowering them back to your sides. This exercise is best done with foam dumbbells to add resistance. 


Stand with your feet slightly greater than shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees to 90 degrees and sit back as though you are lowering yourself into a chair. Hold for a count and then return to standing. Repeat 15-20 times.

High Knees

Standing in the water, tighten your core, lift your right leg in front of you while bending it at 90 degrees. Hold before lowering it back down and repeat with your left leg. This exercise should resemble a slow march. You can add ankle weights to increase the difficulty.

Water Yoga Poses to Try

Mountain Pose

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and softly bend your knees. Roll your shoulder up, back, and down, getting into a strong upright posture. Face your palms forward, opening your chest up. Take several deep breaths in this position.

North Star Pose

Stand with your feet greater than hip-width apart, feet turned slightly outward. Inhale and raise your hands outward from your sides, bringing your palms together with arms extended above your head, fingers pointed towards the sky. Exhale as you return your hands back to your sides

Warrior II Pose

Start with your feet greater than shower width apart, left feet facing forward and right foot pointed outwards. Extend your arms out on either side. Exhale and slowly bend your right knee, sinking lower into a side lunge. Hold for a few counts and then inhale and return to center. Repeat on your left side.

Crescent Lunge

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Begin by stepping your right foot forward and bending into a lunge with your left leg extended back, toes curl under and heel pointing upwards. Make sure to square your hips, facing them forward in this position.

From there, inhale and sweep your arms up forward and over your head, palms facing each other. Extend them as far back as you can go while keeping your hips square and your tailbone tucked. Tilt your chin up and look at the space between your thumbs. Lower your arms and return back to the center. Repeat on your left side.

Floating Savasana

Grab two pool noodles and place one behind your knees and the other behind your neck and shoulders. Letting the noodles support you, float in place while you breathe deeply, and calm your mind.

Get Started with Aquatic Exercise Today

Aquatic exercise and water yoga make great additions to your workout routine. These low-impact exercises provide a ton of health benefits including hydrotherapy, improved strength and endurance, and better circulation.

Like the sound of working out in your hot tub? Stop by one of our three showrooms and our experts will help you find the perfect swimming pool, hot tub or swim spa for your needs!

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