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Swimming And Weight Loss
Take The Plunge And Lose A Few Pounds

From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

What’s your reason for not swimming? Don't like getting your hair wet? Don't think swimming can give you the healthy bones you want? You can't swim?

Well, these are a few of the reasons swimming is one of the least popular sports among adults. That's an unfortunate statistic, considering swimming remains one of the best and lowest impact activities for overall physical fitness and mental well being. And beyond the health benefits, it is one of the few sports that can be enjoyed at any age!

So why not take the plunge to get fit and stay cool this summer? Find out why swimming is a seaworthy way to fitness, then try our solutions for sidestepping those excuses and getting into the swim:

How Swimming Keeps You Fit

  • Provides a good aerobic work out: The cardiovascular benefits of swimming and aquatic exercise are similar to other aerobic activities such as running and cycling.
  • Tones the whole body: Water offers 12 to 14 percent more resistance than air, so water is a good substitute for weights. In addition, all swimming strokes tone the muscles of both your upper and lower body.
  • Improves and maintains flexibility: Swimming enhances joint flexibility more readily than with land-based programs, especially in the neck, shoulders, hips and midsection. Much of this is thanks to the repetitive twisting movements, as your body turns from side to side during the crawl, backstroke and butterfly.
  • Mobilizes joints without stress and pain: In water you are 90 percent lighter than in air and that makes your body buoyant. The water supports the body while providing a head-to-toe workout that puts joints through their full range of motion -- even if they're inflamed -- without the problem of gravity. So swimming can be ideal if you're obese, pregnant, have chronic back or joint problems or suffer from a sports injury.
  • Stimulates muscle growth: Although not considered an effective activity for increasing bone mass and reducing the risk of osteoporosis, swimming does provides a stimulus for muscle growth because of the resistance working against the water. Stronger muscles mean improved mobility and support for the joints, which in turn can reduce the risk of falls and fractures. If you need to build bone, walking can be a good complement.
  • Helps with weight loss: Water workouts have a calorie-burning potential of 350 to 450 calories per hour. Combined with a healthy diet, swimming will help fat loss and increase muscle mass to give your body a lean, firm, well-defined appearance. Compare land walking, which burns 135 calories every 30 minutes with deep-water walking, which burns 240 calories per half hour.
  • Stress reliever: Swimming can be good for the mind as well as the body. The soothing aspects of water can help ebb away the days tensions!

Solutions For Your Swimming Excuses

Excuse #1: “Swimming is boring.”

Solution: Instead of doing only laps, shake it up. Vertical water training effectively strengthens your muscles, providing 75 percent more resistance than simply swimming. You'll maximize the drag effect of the water, whereas swimming minimizes resistance. If you're not comfortable in the deep end, also try these alternatives:

  • Water aerobics: This type of water exercise involves total body movements to music in shallow or deep water.
  • Water walking/jogging: This involves step and arm moves in waist- to chest-deep water. You can do it with head and shoulders above water, or in the deep water wearing a floatation device.
  • Water toning/strengthening training: Movement of the upper and lower body using the water as resistance will strengthen, firm, and sculpt the muscles. You can make larger movements when you're buoyant.
  • Wall exercises: Using the pool wall for support allows you to isolate various parts of the body.

Excuse #2: “My eyes get red and sore.”

Solution: This effect is due to the chlorinated water. Purchase a pair of comfortable goggles. Your eyes and visual health will thank you for them. There are dozens of different goggle brands and styles on the market. You can even get prescription goggles!

Excuse #3: “I don't like getting my hair or face wet.”

Solution: Secure your hair on top of your head or wear a bathing cap. While the cap doesn't keep all the water out, it helps keep hair dry and healthy. Chlorine can remove natural oils in your skin and hair, making them look dull and dry. If you have light hair, a cap can also prevent hair from turning green due to high concentrations of copper dissolved in the pool water. Try water exercises such as water aerobics or water jogging to keep your face drier.

Excuse #4: “I don't feel comfortable wearing a swimsuit.”

Solution: This is a common problem for people who are both average and overweight, but don't let worries that others are scrutinizing your body stop you from taking advantage of the wet and wild fun! Attend public pools with a friend to build your confidence.

Excuse #5: “I get breathless after one lap, even though I'm in shape.”

Solution: New swimmers tend to sprint a lap or two, exhausting themselves and ending the exercise session prematurely -- and maybe permanently. Start out by alternately swimming and resting; swim for 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend moving until you can comfortably swim for 20 to 30 minutes without rest.

Excuse #6: “I can't swim!”

Solution: Plenty of local pools and the YMCA (www.ymca.com) offer swimming lessons for a range of experience, as well as a variety of water activities that do not require a good command of swimming. Your stroke doesn't have to be perfect, but the more technically correct it is, the better the workout you will get. Here is a description of the swimming strokes, all of which can give you a good workout:

  • Front crawl. In this stroke, alternating over-arm strokes and the flutter kick are used, while your head is above the water and moving from side to side
  • Backstroke. Lying on your back, this stroke requires alternate over-the-head arm strokes and a flutter kick.
  • Breaststroke. In the breaststroke, a frog kick is used while the arms move from a point in front of the head to shoulder level.
  • Butterfly. The most difficult and exhausting stroke, the butterfly employs the dolphin kick with a windmill-like movement of both arms in unison.
  • Sidestroke. This relaxed movement, which entails a forward underwater stroke and a scissors kick, is performed with the body on one side.
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