Story by Michelle Brosco Christian
Humans have been enamored with water for centuries-from the Roman baths, to modern-day, mammoth water parks with slides, lazy rivers and wave pools. Water is soothing and can be provide therapy for both body and mind. So it's no wonder indoor and outdoor pools in Southern Maryland, along with aquatic exercise, are quickly gaining popularity with residents of all ages and physical stamina.
Sue Rumpf, a kindergarten teacher in St. Mary's County, likes exercising in the water because it's a stress reliever after a full day in the classroom. Like many others, Rumpf had fallen out of a regular exercise routine and tried aquatic exercise when her friend recommended it. She now prefers water exercise to land aerobics because, as she puts it, "I don't like to sweat!"
Since water cools the body more efficiently than air does, women experiencing hot flashes will find it more comfortable to perform high intensity exercise in water than on land.
Water has long been a means of physical therapy-everyone from Olympic athletes to seniors can benefit from getting into the water when they've been injured or had joint-related surgery. Lorraine Diana, a certified nurse practitioner with Shah Associates in California says, "Many of my patients are overweight or older and have difficulty with knees, hips and ankles, but are willing to exercise if they can do so without pain." Diana, herself, suffered debilitating back pain before she began swimming laps and performing water aerobics and recommends aquatic exercise to patients for "getting excellent aerobic and resistance training without pain. If they have severe physical limitations, I first recommend aquatic physical therapy before they embark on an aquatic fitness program."
In addition, the buoyant and hydrostatic effect of water helps with circulation and the return of blood and fluids from the lower extremities, thus it's perfect for pre- and post-natal participants, seniors and those with blood vessel valve problems. Water's buoyant effect also helps with balance, aiding those who are weak or have changing balance conditions such as pregnant women and the obese. The water supports the body's weight and prevents falls and injuries. Exercising in waist- or chest-deep water provides more benefit to the upper body, back and hips than land workouts provide because of the all-over resistance and drag in the water.
"The biggest misconception about water aerobics is that it is only for the elderly and that it is easy to do," said Dawn Greenwaldt, a certified aquatics instructor for Charles County Parks and Recreation at North Point High School's pool. "Working out in the water is like being in a 360-degree weight room and your body is always working to stabilize itself and in turn making you stronger in your core."
Since it takes more muscle energy to push your body through water than through air, walking in at least waist-deep water or running in deep water with an exercise flotation device can give you almost double the workload of walking on land. This allows you to burn up to double the calories per hour that you might on land-without sweat and with less risk of injury.
Find Your Pool
Most area pools offer aquatic exercise classes and more. Check with individual groups for details.
While Calvert County has several outdoor community pools, a new indoor facility recently opened: the Edward T. Hall Aquatic Center includes a 10-lane, 50-meter pool with diving well, a therapy pool (around 90 degrees), a 3-foot deep children's pool, and a nine person spa tub.
Outdoor pools include Cove Point Park Pool in Lusby and Kings Landing Pool in Huntingtown: 410-535-1600, Ext. 2673; http://www.co.cal.md.us/residents/parks/events/.
Charles County's Lackey and North Point high schools offer indoor pools while outdoor pools are located at La Plata, McDonough and Thomas Stone high schools: 301-743-2470 or 301-753-6003; http://www.charlescounty.org/pf/parks_rec/, or call the Department of Community Services at 301-934-9305 or 301-870-3388, Ext. 5152.
The College of Southern Maryland's pool information: 301-934-2251; www.csmd.edu.
St. Mary's County
St. Mary's County's Great Mills Swimming Pool information: 301-866-6560; www.co.saint-marys.md.us.
St. Mary's College of Maryland's aquatics center and pool information: 240-895-4295; http://www.smcmathletics.com/arcinfo/pool/.
The College of Southern Maryland's Leonardtown Campus will open a Wellness and Aquatics Center in fall 2010 including a lap pool, and therapy pool, information: 240-725-5300; http://www.csmd.edu.
Please note: this list is limited to our research. It is great place to begin your search. We apologize for anyone we may have missed.