Characterization and Risk of Maximal Head-Out Aquatic Exercises

Ines Goncalves1, Pedro Figueiredo2, Joao Paulo Vilas-Boas2, Ricardo J. Fernandes2, Susana Soares2, *
1 Research Centre in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, FADEUP, Portugal
2 Centre of Research, Education, Innovation and Intervention in Sport, Faculty of Sport and Porto Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

© 2012 Goncalves et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Swimming department, Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Rua Dr. Plácido Costa, 91, 4200-450 Porto, Portugal; Tel: +351 225074764; Fax: +351 22 5500689; E-mail:


The present study aims to characterize maximal continuous and intermittent efforts in head-out of water aquatic exercise and to determine the risk associated with this type of exercises by healthy persons. Ten healthy women (38.3 ± 9.4 years; 160.2 ± 6.2 cm; 50.0 ± 8.5 kg) experienced in head-out aquatic exercise participated in this study. Two maximal exercises of (I) 7 min continuous and (II) 3x30 sec leg kick, with 30 sec interval were performed with a two days rest interval. The Rate of Perceived Exertion (I: 19.8 ± 0.4 and II: 19.4 ± 1.0) and the heart rate values (I: 184.9 ± 1.4 and II: 178.2 ± 10.4 bpm) confirmed that both exercises were maximal. The blood lactate concentration was high after exercise in both protocols (I: 12.0 ± 3.4; II: 10.7 ± 2.7 The systolic blood pressure was higher after both exercises (I: 119.9 ± 19.2 and II: 138.7 ± 15.5 mmHg) whereas diastolic blood pressure was lower (I: 52.6 ± 13.4 and II: 47.8 ± 9.7 mmHg). The mean blood pressure at rest (I: 88.8 ± 12.2 and II: 79.3 ± 8.1 mmHg) and after exercise (I: 83.4 ± 14.4 and II: 78.1 ± 9.8 mmHg) was similar. The higher diastolic blood pressure and double product (I: 26188.2 ± 3955.1 and II: 21899.1 ± 2696.4 mmHg.bpm) for maximal continuous exercise revealed high cardiac effort. Maximal intensity exercises could be safely used in head-out aquatic exercise classes with healthy participants.

Keywords: Cardiovascular risk, effort characterization, exercise mode, water based activities, maximal intensity, physiological parameters.