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Splash Into Summer Fitness: Water workouts easy on joints

By Jo Lee Ferguson
June 28, 2017 at 9:34 a.m.
Updated June 28, 2017 at 9:34 a.m.

Summer trips to the swimming pool can mean much more than Marco Polo, treasure hunt and belly flop contests with the kiddos. They can be the reason you look better in your bathing suit at the end of swimming season than you do right now.

“It’s a full body workout but without the pressure on your joints from gravity,” says Woodie Terrell, who works in the aquatic program and teaches other courses at the Christus Good Shepherd Institute for Healthy Living. The Institute has indoor pool facilities.

People who are swimming fast can burn up to 600 calories per hour – a figure affected by the water’s temperature and swimming speed, for instance, compared with about 100 calories an hour when walking fast. The benefits, though, go beyond counting calories.

“You’re dealing with hydrodynamics,” Terrell says, including resistance and buoyancy.

People breathe differently while swimming, their kidneys “stay flush,” helping them to “function better.” Swimmers move their arms above their heads, pulling through the water against 64 pounds of pressure per cubic foot. It helps strengthen the heart muscle and lungs as the swimmer breathes deeper.

The drag of the water has a massaging effect on the swimmer’s skin, as the swimmer is kicking her legs, moving her arms and turning her body.

“Your whole body is being affected differently in water,” Terrell says.

Water workouts don’t have to include just traditional swimming. Kim Miller has held various roles and taught classes in the city of Longview’s aquatic program since 1998, but she has overall experience that spans more than four decades.

“It stimulates every part of your body while you’re in the water,” she says.

A 45-minute workout in the water, with nonstop, intense movement – maybe even weights – can have the equivalent effect of walking 5 miles, she says.

She’s taught water aerobics in the past, and she saw how water exercises benefited people with arthritis and heart disease.

Water exercises can be good, too, for athletes in sports other than swimming, both for training and recovering from injuries.

“You’re weightless in the water. You’re not putting any impact on your joints and stuff,” Miller says.

She’s helped athletes train in the water with weights or bungees around their waist while they practiced starts in the water, for instance.

While water exercise classes are offered at places, such as the city of Longview’s Paula Martin Jones Recreation Center and the Institute for Healthy Living, people also can follow their own water exercise regimen. Jumping jacks in the water, walking while moving the arms back and forth, pulling the knees into the chest – there are many exercises people can do in the water, Miller says.

People who want to swim but who don’t like to put their faces in the water can practice a breath stroke with their heads up and out of the water, not worrying about a specific breathing technique. Exercise belt flotation devices suspend a person in the water, and they can perform a cross-country ski motion for “huge cardio.”

People should be mindful, though, that they can still injure themselves while exercising in the water.

“Because of the weight of the water, you can hurt yourself,” Terrell says, explaining that correct form is something instructors are careful about. “You can hyper-extend a joint if you don’t do an

exercise properly.”

Public swimming pools aren’t as prevalent as they once were, with some cities closing pools in years past because of the cost of operating and maintaining them. Many cities have turned to splash pads instead, where children can play in water features that spray and pour. Here’s a look at some city operated pools and private or semi-private facilities with pools in this area:


  • Longview Swim Center, 1111 W. Fairmont St.; 2-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 1-6 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday; $2 for youth, $3 for adults, season passes and non-resident rates available.
  • Ingram Pool, 1300 N. 10th St.; 2-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 1-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, closed Friday; $2 for youth, $3 for adults, season passes and non-resident rates available
  • Paula Martin Jones Recreation Center, 515 W. Avalon Ave.; includes indoor pool; monthly and annual memberships available; 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Friday

Private facilities with pools open to members:


  • Kilgore City Pool, North Henderson Boulevard/Business 259 north of the library; 1-6 p.m. daily through Aug. 18; admission $2 per person ages 4 and older, season passes/classes available
  • James. M. Parks Fitness Center at Kilgore College, 1100 Broadway Blvd.; indoor pool; 3:30-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 3:30-6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday; free to full-time students and employees, public membership options include $37/month for a single person, $47/month for family and $20 a month for seniors
  • Meadowbrook Golf and Event Center, semi-private city owned facility with swimming pool,


  • Private facility with pool open to members: Gilmer Country Club, (903) 734-4125


  • Semi-private facility with pool open to members and seasonal memberships available to the public: Carthage Country Club, (903) 693-9900



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