Cross Training For Runners

The Runner’s Guide to Aqua Jogging – Should You Try Running In Deep Water?

7 Mins read

Aqua jogging is making waves in the world of cross-training, rehabilitation, and conditioning for runners, and even elite athletes are jumping in on the action. This low-impact workout is as simple as strapping on a flotation device, heading to the deep end of a swimming pool, and simulating the running movement by treading water. But, as they say, the devil is in the details.

In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the benefits of aqua jogging for runners and how you can incorporate it into your workout routine. We’ll cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • What exactly is aqua jogging?
  • The science behind aqua jogging and its benefits
  • How to integrate aqua jogging alongside your road miles
  • Proper form for effective aqua jogging
  • Sample aqua jogging workouts to try
  • Who should consider aqua jogging, and who should approach it with caution
  • The essential gear you’ll need for aqua jogging
  • Weighing the pros and cons of this training method
  • Tips to maximize your aqua jogging efficiency

If you’re ready to take your running game to the next level or looking for a low-impact alternative, this comprehensive guide to aqua jogging has got you covered.

Let’s dive in and make a splash in your training routine!

What is Aqua Jogging?

Aqua jogging, also known as deep water running, is a unique form of exercise that simulates the movements of running while immersed in water without touching the pool bottom.

Here’s a breakdown of what aqua jogging entails:

  • Buoyancy Device: Aqua jogging typically involves the use of a buoyancy belt or device that is worn around the midsection. This buoyancy aid helps you stay afloat in deep water without having to touch the pool floor.
  • Deep Water Work: Aqua jogging takes place in the deep end of a pool where you can’t touch the bottom. This eliminates the impact and jarring effect associated with running on land.
  • Running Motion: While wearing the buoyancy device, you perform a running motion by moving your arms and legs as you would during regular running. It closely mimics the running movement, engaging similar muscle groups.
  • Cardiovascular Endurance: Aqua jogging offers an excellent cardiovascular workout. It allows you to maintain or even improve your cardiovascular endurance while being gentle on your joints and muscles.
  • Muscle Engagement: The exercise engages the same muscles used in running, making it an effective cross-training method for runners.
  • Balance and Upright Position: The buoyancy device helps you maintain a balanced and upright position in the water, allowing you to focus on the aqua jogging motion without touching the pool’s sides or bottom.
  • Variation: While deep water is ideal for aqua jogging, some specific exercises can be performed in shallow water if you don’t have access to a deep pool.

Who Should Try Aqua Jogging

Aqua jogging holds promise for virtually all runners, but if you find yourself in any of the following groups, you could particularly benefit from this aquatic workout:

  • Recovering from an Injury: If you’re on the mend but want to maintain your fitness level, aqua jogging can be a lifesaver.
  • Prone to Injury or Tight Hips: Runners with a history of injuries or persistent hip tightness can use aqua jogging to reduce the risk of further damage.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: If your day job keeps you glued to a chair, aqua jogging provides an excellent way to counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting.
  • In Need of Cross-Training: If you’ve been sticking solely to running and want to diversify your training, aqua jogging can be a refreshing change.
  • Arthritis Sufferers: The buoyancy of water can provide relief for those with arthritis, making aqua jogging a suitable workout.
  • Dealing with Joint Pain Due to Weight: If you’re carrying excess weight and experiencing joint pain, aqua jogging can alleviate the stress on your joints.
  • Water Enthusiasts: For those who love being in the water and have access to a pool, aqua jogging combines fitness and fun.

Is Aqua Jogging Good For Runners

Absolutely! Let me break down why it’s a great choice for runners.

Running is undoubtedly an excellent cardiovascular exercise, but it comes with a significant drawback – its impact on your body. Surveys have shown that the majority of runners experience injuries at some point during a year of running. Overuse injuries are quite common, and even the most dedicated runners can’t entirely avoid them.

This is where aqua jogging comes into play. Originally developed as a rehabilitation tool for injured athletes, aqua jogging offers tremendous benefits for runners who are recovering from injuries.

The beauty of aqua jogging is that it involves movements very similar to running, but it’s performed underwater. This makes it relatively easy to learn and adapt to, even for seasoned runners.

The Benefits Of Aqua Jogging For Runners

When done correctly, aqua jogging offers a lot of benefits to runners.

By adding aqua jogging to your running plan, you’ll boost your cardio power, improve form and build muscular strength—all while limiting the wear and tear on your muscles and joints.

Here are a few.

Maintaining Fitness Through Injury

Aqua jogging is frequently used as a means to preserve cardiovascular fitness and support recovery after an injury. Its unique properties, including water resistance, freedom of movement, and minimal impact on bones and joints, make it a pain-free exercise option that reduces the risk of exacerbating injuries.

But let’s not just take my word for it. Let’s dive into some research.

In one study, ten well-trained runners exclusively practiced deep-water running for a month. Their 5K race performance and other performance metrics were measured before and after this period. Surprisingly, the researchers found no statistically significant difference in 5K times or other performance indicators like lactate threshold and submaximal oxygen consumption. In simpler terms, aqua jogging helped these well-trained runners maintain their running fitness for up to a month, even during injury recovery.

Another study compared aqua jogging with traditional land running over a six-week period. Sixteen subjects were split into two groups: one performed aqua jogging sessions, and the other ran on solid ground. Both groups followed similar training durations and intensities. Remarkably, the researchers found no significant differences in performance markers such as blood lactate, maximal blood glucose, and body composition between the two groups.

In essence, aqua jogging can be an effective way to stay fit and recover from injuries without losing ground on your running goals.

Helps With Recovery

If you’re seeking a recovery tool, aqua jogging should be at the top of your list. It’s a go-to option for injured runners because it enables you to run without experiencing pain or worsening injuries caused by impact with hard surfaces. Aqua jogging provides a running-related workout without exacerbating your injury and can even accelerate your recovery.

But once again, let’s rely on the research for confirmation. Studies have shown that aqua jogging can serve as a valuable recovery tool, expediting the repair of damaged muscles after strenuous training. Another research study found that aqua jogging, when used as part of injury rehabilitation, can help maintain optimal physical condition.

In summary, aqua jogging is an incredibly useful tool for recovery and is the perfect cross-training method for injured runners.

Additional guide – Heart murmurs and running

Burns A lot of Calories

Aqua jogging is known for its calorie-burning benefits. Research suggests that running in deep water may burn more calories than running on land. So, if you’re aiming to maintain a healthy body weight while taking a break from traditional running, aqua jogging can be an excellent option.

The precise number of calories burned during aqua jogging can vary, but on average, a 30-minute session may result in burning approximately 200 to 250 calories. Keep in mind that this is just an average estimate, and individual calorie burn may differ..

Improved Muscle Strength

Running in water is inherently more challenging than running on land because water is denser than air. Consequently, your movements in the water encounter greater resistance. In fact, moving in water has approximately 12 times the resistance of moving in air. This increased resistance helps strengthen muscles in areas that are often overlooked by runners, such as the hip flexors and arms/shoulders.

Additionally, aqua jogging promotes an upright posture, which is beneficial for strengthening your core muscles.

Intense But Gentle

Aqua jogging provides a high-intensity workout while being gentle on your body, making it an excellent choice for individuals dealing with injuries or chronic conditions. It offers a low-impact form of aerobic exercise that can help you stay active and reap the benefits of regular physical activity, even if you can’t engage in traditional running due to injury or health issues.

Build Proper Technique

Both novice and experienced runners can benefit from deep-water jogging. It allows you to work on your running technique without subjecting your muscles and joints to the same impact forces experienced on land. In essence, aqua jogging offers a safe and low-impact environment for refining your running form.

Furthermore, aqua jogging can be particularly effective for improving running form because the water’s resistance makes it more challenging to swing your arms. This encourages you to focus on maintaining proper leg movement and a forward-leaning posture, ultimately enhancing your running technique.


Aqua jogging is a versatile form of cross-training that allows you to replicate various land-based running workouts, including intervals, tempo runs, and fartlek sessions. This means you can enjoy the same training benefits without subjecting your running muscles and joints to excessive stress. It serves as a safe and effective alternative to running outdoors, particularly on extremely hot or cold days.

Improved Balance

Running in deep water can significantly enhance your balance and coordination. This improvement occurs as you strengthen the supportive muscles needed for maintaining stability in the water. Practicing aqua jogging in a warm swimming pool provides an ideal environment for honing your agility skills while reducing the risk of injuries commonly associated with running on hard surfaces.

The Downsides of Aqua Jogging

There’s no such thing as the perfect exercise. ALL workout routines come with downsides. And aqua jogging is no exception.

While aqua jogging offers several benefits, it’s important to acknowledge its downsides, just like any other exercise. Here are some of the drawbacks associated with deep water running:

Limited Intensity:

Aqua jogging typically doesn’t allow you to elevate your heart rate as much as traditional running on land. The water’s buoyancy reduces the impact and intensity of the workout.

Initial Muscle Soreness:

When you first start aqua jogging, you may experience muscle soreness. The water resistance provides a unique form of resistance training that can cause soreness until your body adapts.

Access to a Pool:

Depending on your location and access to facilities, finding a suitable pool for aqua jogging may be challenging. Limited access to a pool can make it difficult to establish a consistent aqua jogging routine.

Despite these downsides, aqua jogging remains a valuable cross-training option, especially for runners looking to reduce the impact on their joints, recover from injuries, or add variety to their workouts. While it may not replicate the exact intensity of land-based running, it offers a unique set of benefits that can complement a runner’s training regimen.


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