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A flotation belt is an apparatus made from any buoyant material, such as ethylene vinyl acetate closed-cell (EVA) foam, that one secures around the waist. The belt is typically worn during cardiovascular exercises and resistance training while submerged in shallow or deep water. Perhaps the most popular use of flotation belts is in water aerobics classes. Flotation devices are believed to help keep correct posture, thus taking strain off the lower back while exercising.
Water activities in which a flotation belt might be used include running and practice drills. Other exercises involving the device include water aerobics, which are often part of the physical rehabilitation process after an injury. The elderly may also find that water aerobics are gentle on the joints, but still build muscle mass through resistance. Using a flotation belt is one way to help make water exercises safer, because it can help the body maintain a natural, upright position. Most manufacturers of the products, however, do caution that the belts should not be used as flotation devices, as the small belts might not support one’s full body weight.
Though a body’s natural buoyancy in water may drastically decrease pressure on joints, many people find that, over time, the lower back can become strained. This can happen during aerobic exercise, because the body has a tendency to hunch forward, lifting the feet off the ground. Thus, the feet, knees and hips are not absorbing any pressure. A flotation belt can help one properly adjust so that any impact is properly distributed.
Flotation belts are usually made of durable foam that floats in water. A good product will be made of closed-cell foam that prevents the belt from becoming waterlogged, which could lead to the growth of bacteria inside the belt. The flotation belt could also become uncomfortable and heavy if made from a cheap material that is not waterproof.
Often times, a flotation belt will be adjustable. The belt should be worn above the hips and below the rib cage for maximum effect and minimal discomfort. Some argue that flotation belts can ride up the back during exercise; others complain that chafing occurs along the belt line and where the inner arms brush against the belt. Many belts offer waist measurements to help ensure that these problems do not occur.
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