Feature Archive

Power in Resistance

Workouts with water.

WebMD Feature

June 12, 2000 -- I've always had a so-so relationship with water. At summer camp in Maine, I remember desperately clinging to the docks until the very last moment, when my frustrated swim counselor nearly drop-kicked me into the icy lake. Summer after summer, I was grouped with the tadpoles and the guppies, never the dolphins or sharks.

So it was no surprise that as an adult I gravitated towards land-based activities like running. But about seven years ago, my back rebelled, which wreaked havoc on my 6-mile-a-day jogging habit. I couldn't imagine giving up on running. Luckily, I'd just read in a fitness magazine that working out in water was as good as doing it on land. So I slapped on my ratty old Speedo and took to the water.

Walking onto the pool deck that first day, wearing a big blue aqua running belt that would keep me buoyant in the deep water, I scanned the pool for other aqua exercisers. There were some silver-haired ladies schmoozing by the stairs and the usual lines of lap swimmers, but there were no other water runners. I slunk over to the slow lane and slipped in. As I began my soggy jog to nowhere, I felt vaguely ridiculous and overly aware of curious glances.

But after about an hour, my legs were tired, my heart was racing, and my back didn't hurt. So I kept at it. When my back finally got better, and I laced up my sneakers again, my heart and muscles felt strong, and I hadn't lost a step.