10 Pool Exercises to Improve Endurance

Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that works every muscle in the body while being low-impact and easy on the joints. Like all cardiovascular exercise, swimming can help prevent some of the effects of aging, especially on the brain.

When it comes to cardiovascular endurance, swimming is a wise choice. It burns a large number of calories and requires the heart to create new blood vessels as it works while you move through the water.

In particular, swimming seems to boost cognition and brain health, aiding memory formation. Not only that, but swimming can also benefit your mood and immune response.

Swimmers tend to enjoy their exercise choice more than those who work out on land. Additionally, swimmers benefit from half as much risk of death compared to those who don't exercise.

For the following pool exercises, you'll need a kickboard. You might want to use some goggles, a comfortable swimsuit, and some foam ankle and wrist weights to increase the intensity of your workout.

Try these pool exercises to improve your endurance:


Flutter Kick

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man holding onto the pool edge

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You can use this exercise as a warm-up, progressively increasing the intensity by kicking faster.

  1. Place your hands on the edge of the pool and extend your body in a straight line.
  2. Begin to kick your legs, focusing on tight, effective kicks. Keeping your toes pointed and turned slightly inward.
  3. Your arms should remain straight out in front of you, holding the wall.
  4. Try 50 to 100 kicks.

Water Jog

You can walk or jog in waist to chest high water, which will provide resistance and increase your heart rate while being low-impact. Add ankle or wrist weights for more resistance.

  1. Walk or jog in shallow water, ideally the same height as your waist.
  2. Walk heel to toe in the water with long strides, keeping your arms at your sides in the water and pumping them.
  3. Don't crouch or bend your back. Engage your core and focus on a long, upright position for your upper body.
  4. Continue walking for 10 minutes.

Kickboard Swim

Just like the flutter kick, but this time you will be swimming lengths in the pool using a kickboard. Add ankle weights for more resistance.

  1. Place your hands on the end of a kickboard and extend your body in a straight line.
  2. Begin to kick your legs, focusing on tight, effective kicks. Keep your toes pointed and turned slightly inward.
  3. Your arms should remain straight out in front of you, holding the board.
  4. Try two to four pool lengths.

Jumping Jacks

Performing jumping jacks in the pool keeps the impact low, but since the water provides more resistance than air, you'll really get your heart rate up, boosting endurance. Add ankle weights for more resistance.

  1. Stand in the pool with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  2. Raise your arms horizontally and over your head while simultaneously jumping feet out to the sides.
  3. Reverse the movement by bringing your limbs back to midline.
  4. Perform 15 to 20 reps.

Resisted Flutter Kick

This exercise is similar to the flutter kick with the kickboard above, except you will be holding the kickboard in a vertical position. This position will increase the resistance from the water substantially and boost your heart rate.

  1. Place your hands on the bottom sides of a kickboard and tip it, so it's standing up out of the water.
  2. Extend your body in a straight line.
  3. Begin to kick your legs, focusing on tight, effective kicks. Keep your toes pointed and turned slightly inward.
  4. Your arms should remain straight out in front of you, holding the board.
  5. Try two to four pool lengths.

Pool Burpee

Burpees are a fantastic cardio exercise on dry land, but the pool adds resistance to your lower body. Add ankle weights for more of a challenge.

  • Grip your hands on the edge of the pool and lift your body to form a straight line.
  • Pull one knee toward your chest, then switch with the other as fast as you can.
  • Try 20 to 40 repetitions.

Pool Tuck Jumps

  • Stand in the pool in waist to chest-deep water, with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Put a slight bend in your knees to prepare. Your arms should be lifted out horizontally in front of you with elbows bent, hands facing down.
  • Bend your legs further and jump to lift your knees towards your hands. Try to touch your hands with your knees.
  • Try 10 to 15 reps.

Pool Hacky Sack

You don't need a hacky sack to do this pool version. You'll still get your blood pumping in no time while boosting your coordination.

  • Stand in the pool at chest height. Lift your right leg with a bent knee, rotate your hip open, and bring your foot up and inward.
  • Reach your left hand down diagonally to tap your right foot.
  • Reverse the movement while simultaneously lifting your opposite leg and reaching with your right arm to tap the left foot. That's one rep.
  • Continue switching, tapping each foot.
  • Try 20 to 30 reps.


If you didn't ever think you could ski in a pool, think again. This move mimics the motion of skiing while building cardiovascular endurance as you push through the resistance of the water.

  • Stand with your feet together in chest-high water.
  • Jump slightly and extend one leg out in front of you while simultaneously extending the other behind you.
  • Immediately switch legs, scissoring them in a skiing motion, back and forth.
  • Try 15 to 20 reps.


Bring out your playful side with this frog jump in the pool.

  • Stand with your feet together in chest-high water with your hands by your sides.
  • Bend your knees and jump, bringing both of your feet up and inward to tap your toes together while simultaneously pushing your arms down to touch your hands to your toes.
  • Try 10 to 15 reps.

Safety and Precautions

  • Be sure you have a basic level of swimming ability before attempting to swim, especially if the water is over your head or unsupervised by a professional lifeguard.
  • Don't dive into water that is too shallow. Read all signs before entering the pool.
  • Don't exercise in a pool heated above 90°F (32°C).
  • Don't swim when you're feeling sick or too tired.
  • Keep hydrated even if you can't tell that you're thirsty or sweating, as being in the water can mask the need.
5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Stimpson NJ, Davison G, Javadi A-H. Joggin’ the noggin: Towards a physiological understanding of Exercise-induced cognitive benefits. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2018;88:177-186. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.03.018

  2. Alomari MA, Alzoubi KH, Khabour OF. Swimming exercise improves short‐ and long‐term memories: Time‐course changes. Physiological Reports. 2021;9(11). doi:10.14814/phy2.14851

  3. Park H-S, Kim T-W, Park S-S, Lee S-J. Swimming exercise ameliorates mood disorder and memory impairment by enhancing neurogenesis, serotonin expression, and inhibiting apoptosis in social isolation rats during adolescence. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation. 2020;16(2):132-140. doi:10.12965/jer.2040216.108

  4. Shimojo G, Joseph B, Shah R, Consolim-Colombo FM, De Angelis K, Ulloa L. Exercise activates vagal induction of dopamine and attenuates systemic inflammation. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2019;75:181-191. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2018.10.005

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health Benefits of Water-Based Exercise. May 4, 2016.

By Rachel MacPherson, BA, CPT
Rachel MacPherson is a health writer, certified personal trainer, and exercise nutrition coach based in Montreal.