Many people love swimming because it is relaxing and takes pressure off the joints during movement, but did you know that it is an amazing aerobic exercise that burns between 400 and 600 calories per hour?
The reason you burn so many calories while swimming compared to, say, jogging, which burns under 400 calories an hour, is that moving in the water requires so much breath control. Your body's demand for oxygen increases as a result so that your heart, and your other muscles, must work harder than during many other aerobic exercises.
That means one thing - intense fat loss. To be at the upper end of the calorie burning spectrum, you will need to push yourself to go as fast as you possibly can, athlete style, although just over 400 calories will be burnt from an hour of swimming at an average speed, which is still great going.
Of course your goal may be simpler than getting a bikini-ready body. People have many reasons for wanting to lose fat, such as to feel lighter and healthier. Whatever your motive, swimming is the perfect exercise.
Many people look to reduce fat on specific bits of the body such as the stomach or bottom, but remember, aerobic activities do not target just one area. This is a bonus, as fat will be lost from all parts of your body during each swim.
In order to maintain healthy fat loss, we also recommend that you consume mainly whole foods and watch your calorie intake. Swimming can be hungry work, which is why the professionals eat so much. However, you will want to be mindful. It is important to take in fewer calories than you burn in order to maintain total body fat loss, but talk to your doctor before making dietary changes.
On that note, it is critical that you remain hydrated in the pool. Because you won't feel sweaty like you would with other aerobic activities, it's easy to forget to drink plenty of water, but this is still necessary during swimming, and keeping hydrated really assists with fat loss.
Although you will burn fat from all areas of your body, it is possible to focus on specific parts during swimming so that you can get them into shape. When trying different strokes, observe which ones you find the most difficult. Although these are the least fun to do, this is often an indicator that those parts of your body need the most work. Focusing on your least favourite moves will yield the best results, and with practise, you will improve and be amazed that you even struggled in the first place.
The breaststroke is fantastic, especially if you are a beginner or are easing your way into a new workout routine. You aren't exerting your muscles too much with this one, so while the sculpting and toning effects are somewhat less, you can keep going for a long time. This is ideal if you're thinking about an overall 400 calorie fat burner.
The backstroke is another gentle movement, although it definitely works the lats. Because you need to use a kicking motion to get around the pool with this particular move, it provides a great leg workout as well. Although you will still lose fat from other parts of your body e.g. your stomach with this aerobic whole body exercise, focusing on the legs (or any specific muscle group) makes them slimmer and more toned.
As you get used to working out, you may want to try the front crawl, which is a power move that will help you cut through the water at speed. It works the entire upper body, creating shapely arms and back muscles. A few laps of this will get you out of breath, also making it an efficient fat loss move.
If you're looking for a super-intensive stroke that engages your core abdominal muscles, then you'll want to attempt the butterfly. This is not for beginners, but it can be great as part of interval training, which is an effective fat burner. If you've never done it before, you may want to ask pool staff for guidance. You are moving at speed and using your entire body in this one, which means that it will boost your metabolism in the long term; the total body fat burning that is achieved while swimming this stroke will continue for hours once you're out of the pool. The butterfly exerts every muscle in your upper body, while your abs will be forced to work hard. Regularly practicing the butterfly will create a flatter, more toned stomach.
Swimming is a simple and relatively cost effective exercise that requires no special equipment, and it is worth doing if you want to stay in great shape. Because it is an aerobic activity, every time you do it you burn fat all over your body, making it perfect for losing excess weight and maintaining excellent health. Although you will not bulk up in the same way as you would with weight training, it will tone all your muscles, giving you greater strength and healthier bones. This also means you will have a slimmer, more sculpted body. Of course you'll want to check with your doctor first, but gentle swimming is also generally safe even if you have injuries and cannot perform other exercise, truly making it the ideal fat loss and health maintenance activity for absolutely everyone.