Swimming is one of the best all-round, calorie-busting forms of exercise around.
Second only to running as a means of burning up the calories and helping you to a more active lifestyle, swimming can lay claim to a host of health benefits. It is said to reduce the risk of chronic illness, including heart disease, prevent the on-set of type 2 diabetes, lessen the chance of a stroke – and help keep your weight under control into the bargain.
On average, a person weighing 60 kilograms burns up 300 calories by running for half an hour; tennis, cycling and swimming at a slow crawl are all said to burn 240 calories during the same time.
By comparison, fast walking will see off 150 calories in 30 minutes, and aerobic dancing 195.
Safe and Effective
Whatever your age or ability, swimming ticks all the boxes for improving your general well-being, and is a safe, effective and inexpensive form of exercise. All you need is a swimming costume or pair of trunks – and a local pool.
Working out in the water is a great way of exercising the whole body, toning up the muscles and improving your energy levels. The buoyancy of the water is also beneficial to those whose bones might be injured by strenuous activity on terra firma – when immersed up to the waist, the body bears 50% of its weight, up to the chest it bears between 25% to 35%, and up to the neck the figure is reduced to just 10%.
Water will also cushion stiff joints in those suffering from arthritis and musculoskeletal problems, and can help to relieve pain and stiffness.
Major Muscle Groups
Warm, humid air in an indoor pool can also counter the problem of asthma brought on by exercising outside, causing less irritation to the airways.
Swimming brings all the major muscle groups into play, and helps build up strength in the shoulders, abdominals, legs, hips and back.
- Mix up your strokes to gain even more from a water workout. A slow front crawl will benefit different parts of the body from the breast stroke, as will the back stroke or butterfly.
- No sweat – introduce water aerobics into your regime; aerobic exercise in shallow water offers all the cardiovascular benefits of an aerobic workout on dry land…without the perspiration!
- Swimming is said to help the mind as well as the body. According to the experts, switching off in the water from the stress of daily life is a form of meditation which will leave you with a sense of mental well-being.