Done correctly, water workouts can give you gains similar to those on land, including aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and better balance. Darcy Reber, family medicine provider at Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, recommends aquatic exercise because:

* Water's buoyancy supports your weight. When you're submersed up to your neck, the water cancels out about 90 percent of your body weight, significantly reducing stress on your weight-bearing joints, bones and muscles. Instead of landing on a hard surface with the impact of your full weight, you land with only 10 percent of your body weight. This reduces risk of injury.

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* When you're submerged in water, your circulation may increase, improving your cardiovascular health.

* The pressure of the water on your body can reduce swelling if you have painful injuries.

* Water offers resistance, which strengthens your muscles as you push against it.

* Since the effects of gravity diminish in water, you can do stretching exercises that you may not be able to do on land.