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Aqua Push-ups and Planks: Improving your Core Strength and Balance

posted Jul 5, 2015, 6:19 PM by Miles Fabian   [ updated Oct 30, 2015, 8:13 PM by Sandy Karlek ]


The American College of Sports Medicine recommends seniors perform flexibility activity at least 2 days per week, and of moderate intensity (5-6 on a scale of 1-10), based on your individual threshold. Regular exercise helps maintain a higher level of cardiovascular fitness, mobility, strength, flexibility, and improves the stereotypical image of aging. For those suffering from chronic pain or immobility, this can be very daunting.

Each year, more than one-third of people age 65 or older fall. Falls and fall-related injuries, such as hip fracture, can have a serious impact on an older person's life. If you fall, it could limit your activities or make it impossible to live independently. 

Exercising in the water allows you to strengthen your core and improve your balance without the fear of falling or painful pressure on your joints. This series of exercises for functional mobility will focus on three areas:

  1. Flexibility to help maintain a pain-free range-of-motion.
  2. Strength or resistance to help maintain strong bones, increase metabolism and maintain a higher level of function.
  3. Balance or agility to ease the fear of falling by improving your ability to control and maintain your body's position, whether you are moving or still.

Push-up and Plank Progression in the Water

1.  Water Push-Up

Face the pool edge.

Bring hands to the wall at chest level. Back the legs up so you are at a diagonal.

Bend the elbows out to the side and bring your chest closer to the wall keeping a flat back.

Repeat 15 times.

For greater difficulty, you can experiment with bringing your hands farther or closer together and/or your feet farther/closer to the wall.


2.  Water Plank

With a noodle (a long cylindrical piece of sturdy foam) directly under your chest in the water (in a push-up position) with your arms straight and hands on the noodle shoulder width apart, straighten out your body with only your toes touching the bottom of the pool.

Hold this position for 10-15 seconds.


3. Side plank – Right

While in plank position, hands firmly on a noodle or step in the water, slowly raise your right arm while rotating your hips and torso until your body forms a “T”.

Hold for 10-15 seconds.

Slowly bring your arm back down to plank position.


4. Side plank – Left

While in plank position, hands firmly on a noodle or step in the water, slowly raise your left arm while rotating your hips and torso until your body forms a “T”.

Hold for 10-15 seconds.

Slowly bring your arm back down to plank position.


5. Super(wo)man Float

With the noodle at the surface of the water, gently let your body fall forward into a glide, lifting your feet off the bottom of the pool.

Glide for 3-5 seconds lifting your legs to the surface of the water behind you.

Bend your knees, drop your legs and stand up with equal pressure on each foot.

Fully recover from the float and gain balance while keeping your hands on the noodle.

Repeat 5 times.