Most land exercises can be modified for the pool. In an aquatic environment, there is less strain on joints and the range of motion can be increased due to a lack of gravity. The buoyancy factor may make some exercises appear easier. Attention must be shown to maintaining good posture. A straight upper body is essential to maintaining one’s core. A novice can easily perform Aquatic Up Against the Wall Exercises. These exercises do not require any equipment. However, to increase resistance consider investing in aquatic leg weights, aquatic shoes, or hydrofit cuffs.

Here are 7 basic aquatic exercises that focus on the abdomen and lower body.

Lateral Leg Lifts

Stand with left side next to the pool wall. Hold onto the wall with your left hand. Feet should be next to one another. Raise your right leg going sideways. It should move away from your body until you reach your comfort zone. Stop before you experience any pain. Hold for a second and then bring it back down to the starting position. Decide on the number of leg lifts you will do in each set. Switch sides and repeat on the other side. Repeat this exercise for the number of desired sets.

Hip Abduction and Adduction

Stand next to the pole railing. Use your left hand for support. Swing your right leg out to the side and then swing it back across your body. Toes should be pointed forward throughout the entire movement. Leg should be straight with the knee locked.

Forward Leg Lifts

Stand with your back against the wall. Hold onto the wall with both of your hands. Keeping your left leg slightly bent, gently raise your right leg. Depending on one’s flexibility and conditioning, the leg may or may not be able to become perpendicular to the body. Avoid forcing the leg to go past its comfort zone. Hold a second and then lower to the starting position. Repeat with the left leg.

Aquatic Can-Can

Stand with your left side to the wall. Hold onto the wall for balance. Standing straight lift your right leg as you bend your knee. The upper thigh should be parallel to the bottom of the pool while the calf should be perpendicular. Next extend your leg so that the thigh and calf are parallel to the bottom. Repeat with the left leg.

Leg Swing With Hip Flexion Extension

Stand with the left side next to the pool wall. Hold onto the wall with your left hand. Feet should be slightly apart and the left leg should be slightly bent. Swing the right leg up to its comfort range while keeping your body upright. Hold a second. Then swing the leg down and let your straight leg extend back behind you. Upper body should remain upright with a tight core throughout the exercise. Repeat on the alternate side.


Stand with the left side next to the pool. Hold onto the wall for support. Stand on left leg and kick back with the right leg. The body should remain upright. Both knees should remain inline with the body. All movement should be focused on the knee joint. Repeat on the other side.

Abdominal Challenge

Stand with your back against the wall while holding onto the edge for balance. Draw knees up to chest. Hold a second. Then return to standing position. Next draw your knees up on angle to the right and then the left. Alternate between the three position- center, right, and left.

The number of repetitions and sets will be dependent on the exerciser and the particular exercise. A newbie may be comfortable with only 5 or 10 repetitions while someone who is already exercising on a regular basis may be comfortable with 15-20 repetitions. Once again the number of sets - 1, 2, 3 or more will be an individual decision. Prior experience, comfort in the water, and overall condition should be a person’s guide. Remember there are at least 8 benefits of aquatic exercises. The key is to have fun and gradually increase the intensity and duration of the workouts.

Sandra Bornstein, an international educator and writer, has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses at the University of Colorado and Front Range Community College. Sandra holds two masters’ degrees- one in Education from the University of Colorado and another in Jewish Studies from Spertus College.In 2010, her husband’s international job created a unique opportunity to live abroad. In India, she fulfilled three passions – a desire to travel, a zeal for writing, and a love of teaching. Sandra’s Indian adventure became the backdrop for her award-winning book, May This Be The Best Year Of Your Life: A Memoir.
Check out her website and author Facebook page.