CATONSVILLE, MD (February 2, 2016) -- Pat Ward has led an indoor water aerobics class at Charlestown retirement community for the past three years. And her classes are always full, especially during winter months, as participants strengthen and increase their muscle tone
The free, hour-long classes are held five days a week in Charlestown's 75- by 30-foot pool, part of the recently expanded 6,000-square-foot aquatics center that also features a separate therapy pool with a treadmill and a spa.
"I wanted to start exercising, so I joined a water aerobics class being taught by another Charlestown resident," says Pat. "When she was no longer able to teach the class, I volunteered to take over."
Pat leads a variety of stretching and aerobic exercises in chest-high water. "It's great exercise. I've had many people in the class tell me they feel great afterward," says Pat.
Before moving to Charlestown four years ago, Sue and William Morrison took aqua aerobics classes at the Y. Now they attend Pat's class two to three days a week.
"We started taking aqua aerobics classes because we wanted to stay active and keep the old bones moving," says Sue. "I feel like since taking the classes we don't get tired as quickly and we can move our arms and legs more freely. At the end of the class, we really feel like we got a good workout."
There's a good reason Sue feels that way. Exercising in water offers 12 to 14 times more resistance than exercising on land, according to the U.S. Water Fitness Association.
The Aquatic Exercise Association reports that a person can expect to burn 400 to 500 calories per hour of exercising in the water. And they note simple devices such as hand-held paddles, foam noodles and rings, and kickboards can add further resistance to increase the intensity of an aquatic workout.
"I think a lot of the people like the class because it is low impact," says Pat. "You can do a lot of things like jumping jacks and jogging in the pool without it jarring your body like you would on land. Plus, there is no risk of falling when you are in the pool."
The water also offers a continuous cooling effect, making it less likely you'll get overheated or dehydrated.
Wellness Manager Teresa Reymann-Curran oversees the fitness and aquatics center and says the pool offers something for everyone.
"There are a variety of different ways to exercise in the water," says Reymann-Curran. "Residents can take part in aquatics classes, swim laps, play volleyball, do water walking—they all provide great cardio exercises for the heart, and the water allows you to attempt full range of motion movements with your muscles. Of course, if you just want to splash around with your grandkids, that's fine, t