February 09, 2022 10 min read

As we get older, it's natural to see our body go through physiological changes. Our arteries harden, bones become more fragile, and muscles get weaker. This makes us more susceptible to chronic conditions and cardiovascular diseases such as arthritis, sciatica, heart disease and stroke.

However, many believe these changes are an inevitable part of growing older, thinking that time is unbeatable. But the truth is you have more control over your health than you realise.

Exercise can make you healthy again, even into your golden years. And while time is irreversible, exercise can slow down or even reverse some of the physiological signs of ageing if done on a regular basis. Due to its low-impact, yet intense nature, water cycling has gained enormous popularity among seniors in the last decade.  A growing number between 40-65 years old are now aware of healthy aging and turning to water cycling because of it low impact, fun and its gentle yet scalable resistance. 


As people get older, their external and internal systems gradually decline, changing various processes in the body. But before we dive into the solutions, let's take a look at some of the health issues that arise as we age:

1. Cardiac changes: After the age of 25-30, our heart rate slows down, declining by a single beat per minute, per year, reducing blood pumping capacity. This decreased circulation makes us more tired when we perform everyday tasks and compromises cardiac function.

2. Vascular changes: Around the age of 40, (or middle age), our arteries become less flexible, causing blood to become more viscous, leading to high blood pressure. When your blood works harder to pump throughout the body, it strains your heart and increases the risk of heart disease.

3. Weight gain: As we age, we become less active and gain an average of 3-4 pounds of body fat a year. Muscles also atrophy, causing our body to become weaker as we perform daily activities and exercises. This causes our LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels to increase and our HDL ("good") cholesterol levels to decrease.

4. Bone density: Bones lose their calcium and other nutrients, making them weaker and more brittle. This means we're more likely to experience bone fractures and other injuries from falls.

Other changes can include hormonal and neurological shifts, skin changes, and a decline in cognitive function. Needless to say, it's the collective of all these changes that makes us more prone to chronic diseases and poor well-being.

However, when we drop the bad habits and incorporate physical activity like aquatic cycling, it helps combat many of these age-related changes.


Water cycling is an innovative and intense exercise that has gained serious traction among people over 40. It combines the principle of land cycling with an aqua environment, giving people a cardio and resistance training workout.

Here's how it works:

  • The Setup: Participants ride on an aqua bike called a Hydrorider while being submerged in a pool. Like regular cycling, they use their feet to pedal and control the speed.

  • Customisable Intensity: The primary operational difference between land cycling is in the manner in which the user dictates speed. While a land bike has gears or mechanical resistance, an proper aqua bike designed for water resistance has a paddle flywheel system and the water's natural resistance. This allows the user to adjust their resistance level and workout intensity, challenging even the most experienced cyclists. This type of resistance works the body but does not leave you with next day soreness. As the resistance is powered by your leg movement you cannot overload the body like a resistance knob on a land bike. On  Hydrorider you can only do what the body is ready for reducing the number of exercise related injuries.


The beauty of Aqua cycling is that it offers a low-impact, joint-friendly workout. Its natural properties, buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure, simultaneously supports your body weight, reduces joint strain, and enhances circulation. When combined with resistance of the water, exercising will challenge your cardiovascular system and muscles.

Because of these reasons, water cycling has become a staple for many in their 40's, 50's and an exercise they can continue into their 80's. It's especially beneficial for those with orthopaedic issues, arthritis, and other preexisting conditions that limit mobility, flexibility and balance.

Below we'll break down why water cycling is an ideal exercise for people over 40:

Low Impact, High Results

The deeper you submerge yourself in the pool, the more your body is supported. The water acts like a cushion, absorbing any impact that compromises joints, ligaments and connective tissue. This allows you to stretch your limbs through their full range of motion in a more controlled fashion, without any jarring or sudden jolting movements.

When you engage in water cycling, your knees, hips, and joints also aren't absorbing the shock of hard surfaces. This aerobic or HIIT exercise allows you to train intensely without the long-term effects of a high impact exercise routine. For people over 40 who have sustained prior injuries, and suffering from chronic pain, water cycling offers a safe alternative that can still get great results.

Full-body Engagement and Core Stabilisation

People over 40 usually see a steady loss of muscle mass, which reduces their metabolic rate. And it's not exclusive to any single muscle group, but rather a gradual muscle loss across the entire body, including your supportive muscles. Water cycling can effectively remedy this by effectively training the whole body.

As you ride, your core and supportive muscles engage to keep you in an upright position on the bike. Your arms are worked as you hold on to the handles, and leg muscles are stimulated as you pedal against the water's natural resistance and paddle flywheel .All of these actions help to develop muscle strength, explosive power and endurance, improving overall muscle fitness.

You'll develop your body's major and minor muscles, helping to fix muscular imbalances that could have developed over time. It means your heart has to work harder to keep up, improving your cardiovascular health, muscular endurance and body composition.

Additionally, the water's natural turbulence means you're constantly fighting to maintain balance, increasing your core strength. This can lead to improved posture, and balance and steadiness, making you more injury resilient in everyday life.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

A big issue for people over 40 is heart health. If a coronary artery clogs up, the blood supply to the heart muscle is reduced. This can eventually damage your heart, and as it continues to pump blood, the increased effort can over time weaken it.

When you perform aquatic cycling, your heart rate increases and is pushed harder to deliver oxygenated blood to your muscles. This helps increase energy levels, aerobic capacity and strengthens the heart muscles, making it more efficient over time. It also reduces blood pressure, a leading cause of heart attack and stroke.

Insights from the Dallas Bed Rest and Training Study

A research experiment known as the  Dallas Bed Rest and Training study studied the effects of exercise in people over 40.  Five young men to rest in bed for three weeks to examine the cardiovascular consequences of such inactivity. The findings showed that after three weeks, all participants experienced a significant decrease in their cardiovascular fitness.

Fast forward to decades later, and the same five men (now over 50) participated in a new experiment that involved engaging in a 6-month exercise regime. While exercise intensity wasn't as high as their 20's, the study found that even with a modest weight loss, their resting heart rates, blood pressures, and the heart's maximum pumping abilities were restored to levels they had at age 20.

This study demonstrates that regular exercise incorporated into a daily routine can reverse the effects of age-related cardio-vascular decline. It's not too late, exercises like aquatic cycling helps your heart even if you are just getting started in your senior years.

Increases Bone Density and Muscle Mass

When we fall, our muscles and bones work to take the brunt of it. This is bearable during our youth when bones are at peak density and muscles are at their strongest. But as we age, both begin to deteriorate. This means, when you fall, you're far more likely to suffer from serious injuries like broken bones and torn ligaments. Additionally, lower than average bone density increases the risk of you developing diseases like osteoporosis, and osteopenia.

Water cycling builds muscle mass and bone health with consistent resistance-based exercise that increases as you get stronger. Heavy weights are not required for bone health resistance benefits. Studies show consistent progressive light-levels to point of maximum challenge delivers better results.  In water cycling the paddle flywheel and water resistance both make pedalling progressively harder, and as your muscles and tendons apply tension to your bones, it causes them to create more bone tissue, resulting in increased bone density and the risk of osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures decreases.

Relieves Stiff and Sore Muscles

When your muscles are stiff, extending your limbs beyond a certain angle hurts. And when they're stretched abruptly beyond their limited range, it can cause strains or tears. Similarly, when your muscles are sore due to exercise, continuing to move can be painful and even debilitating. However, water cycling is a little different in this regard.

The water's buoyancy effectively reduces your body weight as it exerts pressure from all directions. This hydrostatic pressure aids you as you stretch your muscles, gradually releasing tightness. It also encourages blood flow, relieving blood vessel stiffness whilst helping to flush out any lactic acid buildup and other toxins from strenuous activity.


For people over 40 looking for low-impact, yet effective exercises, water cycling is a great option. But how does it stack up to other low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, and yoga? Let's go through each one and compare.

1. Water Cycling vs Walking - Both provide gentler alternatives to more strenuous exercises. However, water cycling is more versatile as you can amp up the intensity to your liking. This means you can burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. Additionally, walking lacks the muscle-building benefits of water cycling, making it less ideal for muscular hypertrophy.

2. Water Cycling vs Swimming - Swimming and water cycling both burn a lot of calories, using the resistance of the water to propel you. While swimming is a strength and endurance exercise, it's a skill that requires technique and lessons. And if you aren't a strong swimmer in your 40's, it can be daunting to get started. Contrast this to water cycling which has a very small learning curve with a low barrier to get started, its accessible to anyone just getting back into exercise. 

3. Water Cycling vs Yoga - Yoga is primarily used to enhance flexibility, increase core strength, and balance via stretching movements. Water exercises and water cycling can also achieve this. Water, particularly heated water, has the added benefit of being able to relax the muscles. This enables more stretch in the same movement (approx. 10%) than the equivalent exercise on land. Water cycling does also offer a full-body workout that increases muscle mass and cardiovascular health. Furthermore, water cycling, in general, burns more calories as you can ramp up the intensity.

Based on these observations, it's clear why people over 40 have taken a liking to water cycling. It's a unique joint-friendly exercise that offers a blend of muscle building and cardiovascular benefits, with minimal skill required and a whole lot of fun. And if you're looking for a gentle way to get into fitness, it can help set the foundation for healthier ageing.

How to Get Started with Water Cycling for the Over-40s

If you've never tried aquatic cycling its easy to get started:

Consult with a medical practitioner: Before starting any water cycling program speak with your medical practitioner. 

Research local facilities: Contact Water Resist the leaders for water cycling in Australia and New Zealand for a class in an Aquatic Centre or pool gym near you.

Invest in aquatic cycling equipment: If there is not a class near you water cycling in your pool at home is a great option. We recommend purchasing a pool bike that has a large paddle flywheel, which offers scaleable natural resistance. Also look for features like adjustable handlebars and seats, and construction using marine-grade stainless steel. The Hydrorider bike range are by far the best available for the body and best quality for water.

Start with the basics:  Go at your own pace. You'll want to gradually ease into the exercise and get a feel for your body's limits. 

Warm-Up Gently: If you're working out alone, you won't have the guidance of an instructor. As such, refrain from rushing into your workout. Instead, start with some gentle warm-up exercises to help prime your muscles and adjust to the water's temperature.

Engage Your Core: Remember that water offers multi-dimensional resistance, meaning it's easy to lose balance as you’re pushed from side to side. When pedaling, ensure to brace your core and keep your posture upright. Over time, you'll develop these muscles and gain a better sense of balance and coordination.

Cool down: Cooling down allows your heart rate and blood pressure to return to their pre-exercise levels gradually. This prevents any dizziness or lightheadedness caused by sudden blood pressure changes.

Monitor Your Progress: Workouts can vary in duration and intensity, depending on your fitness level. However, you should aim to progressively increase exercise intensity. If last week you did a 10 minute routine, aim for 12-15 minutes this week. As you become stronger and fitter, you'll need to either up the duration or resistance to keep improving.

Have Fun: There's no reason why water cycling has to be dull. Remember that water cycling can be a social activity, so speak to your instructor or classmates before and after your sessions. Connecting with other people can also provide valuable social support in retirement, improving mental health and overall quality of life.

Embracing a Healthier Future: The Promise of Water Cycling for Those Over 40

Getting old is an inevitable part of life, but how we age is entirely up to us. While some physical changes come with ageing, it doesn't mean you should abandon your healthy habits altogether. On the contrary, maintaining a healthy lifestyle through consistent exercise and eating a balanced diet can help offset these changes. As a result, you'll see a noticeable improvement in nearly all aspects of your life.

Recent scientific research has begun to challenge our traditional beliefs about ageing. Dr. David Sinclair, a leading world authority on genetics and longevity, posits in his groundbreaking book, Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don't Have To, that ageing is a treatable disease. He suggests that with the right interventions, we might not only feel younger but actually become younger.

Water cycling is one such intervention that aligns with this new perspective on ageing. It's not just another fitness fad; it's a holistic approach to health that caters specifically to the needs of those over 40. By incorporating strength, cardio, resistance, leg strength, core, and balance exercises into your routine, it efficiently tackles the health issues men and women experience in retirement.

Also in Blog

Breast Cancer and Aquatic Exercise
Breast Cancer and Aquatic Exercise

October 20, 2023 10 min read

Aquatic therapy can improve strength, cardio, flexibility, balance, lymphoedema, chemo-induced neuropathy, as well as the anxiety & self-image affected by breast cancer.
Water Cycling for Anxiety & Depression
Water Cycling for Anxiety & Depression

September 04, 2023 8 min read

For those with anxiety and depression, the water's gentle embrace offers solace, strength, and a path to rejuvenation and wellbeing. 
Water Exercise for Bone Health
Water Exercise for Bone Health

August 31, 2023 4 min read

Water exercise is proving effective for bone health, has lower risks of fracture, & puts less stress on the joints. It also comes with less risk & additional health benefits. 
Get Started
Enquire today to get started