Different Strokes for Different Folks
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Whatever your fitness goals — maintaining a healthy weight, building endurance, toning your muscles— getting in the pool is one of the best things you can do for your body. Swimming is a gentle, low-impact exercise that yields powerful results.
The reason why swimming is a highly effective exercise is simple: Water is nearly 800 times denser than air, so every stroke and kick is a resistance workout for your whole body. Even as you work hard to get your heart pumping, water keeps you cool and allows you to push yourself further than if you were engaged in another cardio activity.
Full Body Workout
Swimming taps into nearly all of your muscle groups — abdominals, biceps and triceps, gluteals, hamstrings and quadriceps. Since being in the water requires you to keep yourself afloat, you strengthen often-underused stabilizing muscles in your core and lower back.
Improved Over All Health
Swimming is a potent means of weight loss; an hour of leisurely laps can burn up to 500 calories, while a more intense aquatic workout can burn up to 900 calories per hour. Swimming has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. This isn’t to mention the mental health benefits of taking a relaxing dip in the pool; according to a survey conducted by Speedo, 74 percent of those surveyed agreed that swimming helps reduce stress and 70 percent reported feeling mentally refreshed after a swim.
Gentle on Your Joints
For individuals with osteoarthritis, low-impact exercise, like swimming, is essential to reducing symptoms, improving range of motion and building strength. Long-term participation in high-impact exercise such as running or step aerobics is harmful to already injured joint surfaces, according to a report published by the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health. Water gives your body buoyancy, so even the most invigorating swim won’t put pressure on your joints.
Aquatic exercise is also recommended for pregnant women experiencing joint discomfort. If you are pregnant or suffer from arthritis, talk to your doctor before starting a swimming routine.
The front crawl, also known as the freestyle, requires alternating overhead arm strokes and a flutter kick to propel through the water. Your body is straight and parallel with the bottom of the pool, so you must time your breath with your strokes.
Muscle groups worked: deltoids and legs
This is one the easiest and most natural strokes for beginning swimmers. The breaststroke uses a frog-like kick, bending your knees and kicking them straight underneath you while your arms sweep from the center of your breasts and back again.
Muscle groups worked: thighs, biceps and gluteals
The backstroke looks like an upside-down front crawl. Utilizing the same flutter kicks, alternate your arms over your head and behind you to push yourself through the water.
Muscle groups worked: triceps and legs