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Is Treading Water Good Exercise?

The phrase “treading water” has a negative connotation that implies stagnation or lack of progress. But that’s not true with respect to exercise. Treading water takes stamina and is good for the heart, and, as water polo players know, it gives the body a total workout.


Is Treading Water Good Exercise



Engaging both the upper and lower body, treading water involves moving the arms and legs to keep the head above water while the body is upright. Staying about two inches below the waterline, the arms pull and push water in and away from the body. Simultaneously, the legs kick in one of two motions: the eggbeater or the flutter kick.

With the eggbeater, the swimmer extend his legs slightly out to the side, kicking clockwise or counterclockwise in a circular motion. For the slightly more difficult flutter kick, the swimmer bends his legs slightly beneath the body, points his toes and moves his legs in a scissor motion similar to surface swimming.



Because of the distinct properties of water, aquatic exercise is suitable for people with all levels of muscle endurance, strength and flexibility.



When treading water, your body pushes against the water, increasing resistance and ultimately burning more calories, according to womansday.com. Treading water exercises all the major muscle groups, increases endurance and raises the heart rate.

The Aquatic Exercise Association points out that water workouts improve flexibility, body composition and sleep patterns as well. “Water’s continuous resistance forces you to engage more muscle fibers through a larger range of motion,” outdoor fitness program trainer Greg Moe told fitnessmagazine.com.


Time Frame

A 155-pound person will burn 704 calories in one hour while treading water vigorously, according to nutristrategy.com. The same person treading water moderately would burn 281 calories. A person at that weight walking at a moderate pace of three mph burns 246 calories in an hour. Twenty minutes of treading water is an appropriate initial goal when building endurance.



People suffering from knee or back problems have reduced joint impact in water.



People underestimate the effort treading water requires. This form of exercise takes strength and stamina to sustain a moderate or fast pace. As a person builds strength treading water, the ability to maintain the motion for longer periods will increase.


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