Aqua jogging has its roots in physical therapy. Athletes or individuals with injury were guided to the pool where a cardiovascular workout could be completed without any hard impact to the muscles, joints and connective tissues. Running in the water provides water resistance and balance challenges so regular athletes started incorporating this form of exercise into their existing cross-training plans. And while aqua jogging is no substitute for running on land, it can be a great addition to your basic routine.

A couple things are needed for this type of workout. A pool must be deep enough so that your feet do not touch the ground. Secondly, since it’s tough to move against the resistance of water and keeping yourself upright can prove to be just as challenging, many people new to the activity invest in some type of flotation device. There are sport-specific aqua jogging vests and belts that one may wish to invest in.

Aqua jogging has the potential to greatly improve your cardiovascular capacity. Many people see their heart rate sky-rocket when first attempting this sort of training. Additionally, some athletes  perform running intervals in the water in order to challenge themselves anaerobically. So while joints and muscles may be getting a break from pounding on pavement, you’re still capable of breathing heavily and burning a tremendous amount of calories during your workout.

Running in the water may take a  lot of concentration at first, which means a ton of attention and focus spent on proper running form and stride. Since the water is providing constant buoyancy, there is little to no recovery time needed. As you ‘run’ across the water, you’ll notice how much slower you’re traveling when compared to running on land. Best to quantify these workouts using ‘time’ rather than ‘distance’. If you find that the workout isn’t hard enough, just improve your speed or cadence. Just be mindful of what the exercise objective for that workout may be.

Ultimately, aqua jogging might be just what the doctor ordered if fighting injury or coming off a tremendous race or racing season. But, don’t let this form of cross-training only be an option in one of those two scenarios. A short speed run (on-land) can easily be replaced with some timed intervals spent in the water. Or, simply take the time you would take to run a 5K and spend that time in the pool instead.

Aqua jogging is obviously incredibly useful and a vital part of recovery and physical therapy for those with nagging injury. But, having another mode of cross-training in your tool-box is always the best way to approach improving overall physical fitness and cardiovascular ability. I know some runners get upset because it’s tougher to quantify mileage and can definitely be a little boring. But, bring a friend and a heart rate monitor in order to push yourself and see just how amazing of a workout it can be!