Aqua Jogging – Is It for You?
by Jake Williams
Whether you just enjoy running or you are training for a marathon, running is a fantastic way to improve your health. People start running for a variety of reasons. Some people choose running to get active, others make it a social event and jog with a friend, and some want to get back to the body they had when they were 18. As variable as their motivations, runners also enjoy running in different places. Some people like to run on the sidewalk, others prefer running in a perfectly air-conditioned room on a treadmill, and everybody seems to be running around in circles at some point. But what about running in water? Running in water or aqua jogging will satisfy every runner’s motivations and training goals.
What exactly is aqua jogging? We will be referring to aqua jogging as a form of cross training and rehabilitation method that combines the biomechanics of running with a deep-water environment (Trezah 2019). You may also hear this training format referred to as deep-water running. It is generally recommended to wear a flotation belt or vest for safety and aid with correct body position in deep water. Reducing the level of buoyancy of the flotation belt and/or adding drag or buoyant resistance equipment allow for alterations in intensity. However, form and safety should always be the first consideration. In this regard, when aqua jogging, make sure a lifeguard is around should an emergency situation arise.
How can runners with different goals all benefit from aqua jogging? Let’s start with sedentary people who simply want to become more active. Aqua jogging is a great choice because it reduces stress placed on the exercising joints while also helps to strengthen the muscles. For those desiring to improve body composition, aquatic exercise has been shown to decrease fat mass along with improved social functioning and mental health (Karim 2018). For those seeking the social aspect of exercise, deep-water running classes offered at a local pool or recreational center encourage interaction of participants during, as well as outside of, the class setting. For athletes, cross training is generally recognized as beneficial for improving performance and overall fitness levels with less stress to the body; aqua jogging can be added to any athletes training routine.
Land-based running is a common form of exercise, but one that produces significant wear and tear on the body, which can lead to overuse injuries. Running- related injuries are often connected with the number of miles logged per week. Specifically, an increase in 10 miles per week can lead to a 10% increase in likelihood of a running-related injury for that year (Powell 1986). This indicates that many running injuries can be related to overuse. Athletes are most susceptible to these kinds of injuries, but as amateur joggers become more dedicated, they should keep track of the number of miles they run per week to prevent overuse injury.
Aqua jogging is an effective and safe supplement to land-based running. The buoyant effects of water alleviate stress and relax joints that are susceptible to overuse, particularly the lower extremities. Additionally, in part due to the multi-directional resistance experienced, running in water may reduce muscle imbalances while also providing an opportunity to refine running form. Some, especially highly trained athletes, may wonder if deep-water running is going to detract from the intensity they could be reaching exclusively through land-based running. Not to worry. The benefits of deep-water running include aerobic, anaerobic, and muscle strength training at higher physiological responses than treadmill running (McGhee 2007). Thus, supplementing land-based running with aqua jogging sessions may actually improve fitness and reduce injury.
In conclusion, aqua jogging can be incorporated into reaching any runner’s goals. Aqua jogging can be a kick-start exercise to get individuals active, provide a form of rehabilitation, or supply an effective form of cross training. It has the potential to build fitness while reducing impact stresses and injury potential, which should appeal to runners of every level.
Karim, Noor Liyana Binti, et al. "Effects of Aqua Exercises Towards Improving The Quality of Life (QoL) of Obese Women in Malaysia." Journal of Physics: Conference Series. Vol. 1020. No. 1. IOP Publishing, 2018.
McGhee, Deirdre E., Bruce M. Power, and Julie R. Steele. "Does deep water running reduce exercise-induced breast discomfort?." British journal of sports medicine 41.12 (2007): 879-883.
Powell, Kenneth E., et al. "An epidemiological perspective on the causes of running injuries." The physician and Sportsmedicine 14.6 (1986): 100-114.
Terzah, et al. “Expert Running Coaching Advice.” Runners Connect, 2019, https://runnersconnect.net/coach-corner/aqua-jogging-for-runners/.
Jake Williams is a senior at West Virginia University majoring in Exercise Physiology with an emphasis in Aquatic Therapy. He is a member of the WVU Swim and Dive program. His experience in the sport of swimming has created a lifelong affinity for aquatics and developed a strong belief in therapy. He plans to apply to medical school and hopes to teach and implement aquatic therapy prescriptions as opposed to traditional medications and therapies.