3 Low-Impact Upper-Body Pool Exercises

How you can work on staying fit, active, and independent in your pool.

Why exercise more. It could be for your health or for your appearance. As you age, benefits also include keeping and building the strength, balance, and mobility to stay independent longer. Whatever your workout goals, you can reach them with low-impact pool exercises.

Can You Get Results with Pool Exercises?

Pool exercises deliver results for healthy people and for those with chronic conditions. That's what a deep body of research has shown. Let's look at just a few studies.

Portuguese researchers found that pool workouts – done just twice a week for 12 weeks – led to measurably improvements in strength, body composition (the workouts burned fat and built muscle), and blood pressure.

A Japanese meta-study (a review of 41 previous studies) found that aquatic exercise had significant benefits for people with locomotor diseases, such as osteoarthritis. The study reported pain relief, increased activity, and improved quality of life with regular aquatic exercise. The study only included exercises done while standing on the bottom of the pool, so swimming was excluded.

Of course, dry-land exercise can deliver benefits too; it's just not for everybody. A 12-week study at Texas A&M University found the same weight-loss benefits for adults doing the same exercise on dry land as in water. The big difference: obese and overweight adults found that the pool exercise was less painful.

Videos for Pool Exercises

Many pool exercises can be done simply with body weight. The pool exercises in these videos require some small pool exercise equipment. Affordable hand paddles, resistance bands, and a kickboard are all that you need (besides a pool or swim spa, of course).

The pool exercises are demonstrated by renowned fitness professional Alex Isaly. He created this exercise series exclusively for Endless Pools. Alex is an IRONMAN triathlete who you may know from his appearances on the TODAY Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live; he's also contributed content Men's Health, SHAPE, Sports Illustrated, and other magazines.

Each exercise is demonstrated in either the Endless Pools® E700 swim spa or our X500 swim spa. Of course, these exercises can be done in any of our pools or swim spas. Our Original Series and WaterWell® pools give you a choice of depths, so you can plan the most effective pool exercises for your height.

Pistons are an upper-body pool exercise to help strengthen your chest muscles. This pool exercise requires hand paddles.

Lateral Shoulder Raises are another upper-body pool exercise; they target your shoulders and require resistance bands. Resistance bands are just one of the fitness options you can choose with your Endless Pools swim spa.

Single Leg Pikes help develop a stronger core for better balance and posture. You'll need a basic kickboard for this pool exercise.

Ready for more? Alex has four more pool exercise videos for stronger legs.


  • "The effect of 12 weeks of water-aerobics on health status and physical fitness: An ecological approach." PLoS One. 2018; 13(5): e0198319.

  • "Curative and health enhancement effects of aquatic exercise: evidence based on interventional studies." Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine. 2012; 3: 27–34.

  • "Comparative efficacy of water and land treadmill training for overweight or obese adults." Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2009 Sep;41(9):1808-15.

Aquatic Fitness
Blog Home