Swimming is an ideal exercise for people with injuries or joint problems. Since it is an aerobic exercise, swimming to lose weight assist in burning calories and toning trouble spots. Exercise is an important part of any weight loss program. Creating a calorie deficit is the most effective way for achieve lifelong weight control. To lose weight, one must burn more calories than they consume each day. An active swimming program can help people achieve that deficit.
Starting a Swimming Program
Doing laps in a swimming pool is the most effective exercise to perform. Lap swimming for an hour at an even pace burns an average of 500-800 calories — depending on the stroke and pace. To burn more calories, do the butterfly stroke, which according to the MayoClinic.com, burns 300 calories in 20 minutes. Freestyle swimmers can expect to shed between 200-250 calories every 20 minutes; the backstroke burns 160 calories in 20 minutes. Increasing the intensity will up the calories burned, as will variety. Try doing a different stroke every 20 minutes for an hour of exercise. It is important to consult a doctor before beginning any fitness program to ensure you are healthy enough to exercise. If you cannot swim for one hour, swim for as long as possible and build up to an hour as your strength and stamina improve.
Swimming vs. Regular Aerobics
As discussed, the higher intensity one works out at — the more calories are burned. Swimming laps at a moderate to high rate will shed more calories than walking, spinning or doing an average gym aerobics class. Swimming to lose fat is on the same level as cross-country skiing, mountain hiking and rollerblading. The only more intense calorie burners are running and stair climbing.
Swimming allows for a variety of benefits. People who exercise regularly are less likely to develop heart disease, stroke and diabetes according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC recommends exercising at a moderate intensity at least five times a week. Studies have shown that people who participate in a fitness program have fewer issues with mood disorders, insomnia and mental fogginess. In addition, since exercising in the pool is joint-friendly — it does not put stress on knees or ankles. For people with disorders such as arthritis and osteoporosis — lap swimming is a perfect exercise.
Trim and Tone
Swimming can help tone and tighten the entire body — as it is a full body effort to do laps in a pool. Swimming involves the arms, shoulders, core, hip adductors and abductors and the legs. To focus on one area of the body, there are many options. To tone the arms, a swimmer can purchase and wear swimming gloves. These are weighted gloves your wear while you swim laps. They come in various weights. Wearing them will tone your biceps, triceps and shoulder girdle. People should start out with a low weight of 1 to 2 pounds, and increase as they become stronger.
People looking to tone their buttocks, hamstrings and thighs can enlist the aid of a kick board. Get in the pool and lie on the kick board. You want it positioned under your core, so your upper body is slightly off the front of the board. Let your arms dangle and only use your legs to move yourself across the pool. This is a very effective exercise to tone the bottom half of the body. In reverse, one can use the kickboard to strengthen the arms by lying on the board, letting the legs dangle and only using the arms to move you across the pool.
The Hang Ten
An exercise called “the hang ten,” tones abdominals and the arms. Go to the deep end of the pool and rest fingers gently on the top of the pool frame — out of the water. Push yourself upwards, performing almost a modified push up as you kick your legs. Hold yourself with your arms straight for at least 30 seconds, this will provide an isometric exercise for your arms. Rest and repeat for at least 20 repetitions. Another isometric arm workout is to rest in the shallow end of the pool and allow your arms to float to the top of the pool. It may seem like you are not doing anything but the water provides a gentle resistance which can create long, lean muscles.
Swimming can be an excellent addition to any fitness routine. People choosing this exercise should be good swimmers who are not afraid of the water. Protect eyes and hair from chlorinated water by wearing swim goggles and a swim cap. Lap swimming is an aerobic effort, aim to wear non-baggy clothing that will not weight you down in the water. Women should wear a tight-fitting one piece bathing suit. Men should stick to well-fitting swim trunks that are slightly snug. Never swim alone. If you experience cramping, exit the pool immediately.