August 2018: Aquatics & Obesity



Content courtesy of the National Swimming Pool Foundation


Obesity is no small problem. Individuals with body fat percentages which exceed the threshold of 30% are now no longer atypical. In fact, morbid obesity is the new obesity. With it, any variety of obesity carries a host of potential problems, some due to the disease itself and some due to the metabolic cascade and lack of exercise that often accompanies the disorder. The answer?

Less food and more exercise. Unfortunately, more exercise is often not in the cards. The excessive weight bearing load and sheer force that accompanies exercising on land can quickly put the kibosh on any thoughts of establishing an exercising regiment.

Children who start out their lives obese are fighting an uphill battle to change their trajectory, but one of the simplest tools available to adolescent and adult alike is the humble swimming pool. Of special interest is the fact that it is possible to couple strength training with aerobic exercise when immersed without fear of the consequences that might accompany such exploits under gravity’s dominance.

The buoyancy of the water provides freedom of movement and a reduction in compression forces (although such forces are not completely absent). The viscosity or stickiness of water produces a tit-for-tat resistive force that is easily manipulated. In the event of pain or discomfort, it is quite simple for the exercise participant to merely stop moving – effectively wiping away the resistive forces of immersion and while preserving the buoyant ones.

Individuals who find their way to the water’s edge at least 3 times a week and who exercise at 55-90% of their maximum heart rate have implemented a wise and evidence-based approach to weight loss. And – no small matter – the psychological improvement that inevitably follows exercise is also worth its weight in gold.


Bacchi, M., Mottola, M. F., Perales, M., Refoyo, I., & Barakat, R. (2017). Aquatic Activities During Pregnancy Prevent Excessive Maternal Weight Gain and Preserve Birth Weight. American Journal of Health Promotion, 32(3), Epub ahead of print.

Colato, A., Fraga, L., Dorneles, G., Vianna, P., Chies, J. A. B., & Peres, A. (2017). Impact of aerobic water running training on peripheral immune-endocrine markers of overweight-obese women. Science & Sports, 32(1), 46–53.

Cunha, R. M., Arsa, G., Neves, E. B., Lopes, L. C., Santana, F., Noleto, M. V., … Lehnen, A. M. (2016). Water aerobics is followed by short-time and immediate systolic blood pressure reduction in overweight and obese hypertensive women. Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, 10(7), 570–577.

Fenzl, M., Schnizer, W., Aebli, N., Schlegel, C., Villiger, B., Disch, A., … Krebs, J. (2013). Release of ANP and fat oxidation in overweight persons during aerobic exercise in water. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 34(9), 795–799.

Halvorson, R. (2017). Water-Based Weight Loss Programs: Help Older Women Manage Knee Problems. IDEA Fitness Journal, 14(6), 12. Retrieved from

Hannani, M., Ali Gaeini, A., Shabani, R., & Hemmatinafar, M. (2016). Serum concentration of myostatin, insulin and glucose response to continuous and discontinuous exercises in overweight menopausal and menstrual women. Hormozgan Medical Journal, 20(2), 99–107. Retrieved from

Higgins, J., & Higgins, C. (2016). Prescribing exercise to help your patients lose weight. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 83(2), 141–150. Retrieved from

Kantyka, J., Herman, D., Roczniok, R., & Kuba, L. (2015). Effects of Aqua Aerobics on Body Composition, Body Mass, Lipid Profile, and Blood Count in Middle-Aged Sedentary Women. Human Movement, 16(1), 9–14. Retrieved from

Katsura, Y., Yoshikawa, T., Ueda, S., Usui, T., Sotobayashi, D., Sakamoto, H., … Fujimoto, S. (2010). The Effects of Aquatic Exercise Training on Trunk Muscles Function and Activities of Daily Living in Obese Women. Japanese Journal of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine, 59(5), 505–512. Retrieved from

Kostrzewa-Nowak, D., & Nowak, R. (2015). Effect of 12-week-long aerobic training programme on body composition, aerobic capacity, complete blood count and blood lipid profile among young women. Biochemia Medica, 25(1), 103–113. Retrieved from

Kuptniratsaikul, V., Kittichaikarn, C., Suntornpiyapan, P., Kovintaset, K., & Inthibal, S. (2018). Is four-week underwater treadmill exercise regimen compared to home exercise efficacious for pain relief and functional improvement in obese patients with knee osteoarthritis? A randomized controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation, Epub ahead of print.

Landsmeer, M. L. A., Runhaar, J., van der Plas, P., van Middelkoop, M., Vroegindeweij, D., Koes, B., … Bierma-Zeinstra, S. M. A. (2016). Reducing progression of knee OA features assessed by MRI in overweight and obese women: secondary outcomes of a preventive RCT. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 24(6), 982–990.

Lee, B.  & Oh, D. (2014). The effects of aquatic exercise on body composition, physical fitness, and vascular compliance of obese elementary students. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 10(3), 184–190.

Lim, J. et al. (2010). Effectiveness of Aquatic Exercise for Obese Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. PM&R, 2(8), 723–731.

Lopes, M. de F. A., Bento, P. C. B., Lazzaroto, L., Rodacki, A. F., & Leite, N. (2015). Effects of water walking on the anthropometric and metabolic aspects in young obese individuals. Brazilian Journal of Kinanthropometry and Human Performance, 17(2), 146–155.

Md Yusof, S., Shari, M., Mohd Idris, N., Raja Hussain, R. N. J., Kek, T. L., Aiman, S., … Johar, M. (2018). Aqua Zumba versus Aqua Jogging: Comparative effects on health parameters among obese middle age women. Malaysian Journal of Movement, Health & Exercise, 7(2), 11–21.

Medeiros, N. da S., & Colato, A. (2016). Influence of different frequencies of deep water running on oxidative profile and insulin resistance in obese women. Obesity Medicine, 2, 37–40. Retrieved from

Palekar, T. J., Shah, P. A., & Kadam, M. R. (2018). Effect of Underwater Treadmill Training on Young Obese Adults. International Journal of Scientifc Research in Science & Technology, 5(4), 1487–1492. Retrieved from

Penaforte, F. R. O., Calhau, R., Mota, G. R., & Chiarello, P. G. (2016, September 1). Impact of short-term water exercise programs on weight, body composition, metabolic profile and quality of life of obese women. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Pouwels, S., Wit, M., Teijink, J., & Nienhuijs, S. (2015). Aspects of Exercise before or after Bariatric Surgery: A Systematic Review. Obesity Facts, 8(2), 132–146. Retrieved from

Song, Hun, C., Jung, & Sung, H. (2017). The Effects of an Aquatic Exercise on Body Composition and Heart Rate Variability(HRV) in Elderly Women with Obesity. Korean Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recration, and Dance, 6, 301. Retrieved from

Tufekcioglu, E., Erzeybek, M. S., Kaya, F., & Ozan, G. (2018). The Effect of 12-Week Passive Aquatic Bodywork on Sympathovagal Balance of Obese Youth. Journal of Education and Training Studies, 6(2), 166.

Wasser, J. G., Vasilopoulos, T., Zdziarski, L. A., & Vincent, H. (2017). Exercise Benefits for Chronic Low Back Pain in Overweight and Obese Individuals. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 9(2), 181–192. Retrieved from

Yázigi, F., Espanha, M., Vieira, F., Messier, S. P., Monteiro, C., & Veloso, A. P. (2013). The PICO project: aquatic exercise for knee osteoarthritis in overweight and obese individuals. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 14(1), 320.

Zdziarski, L., Wasser, J., & Vincent, H. (2015). Chronic pain management in the obese patient: a focused review of key challenges and potential exercise solutions. Journal of Pain Research, 8, 63–77.

Λαμπαδάρη, Β., & Χαιροπούλου, Χ. (2016). Swimming and Water-Based Exercise for Adults: Effect on Body Weight, Body Fat and Lean Body Mass. Inquiries in Sport & Physical Education, 13(3), 50–62. Retrieved from

Aquabike / Waterbike / Spabike / Cryotherapy Chambe / Weight Loss Machines. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2017, from