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By Fitness team


Monday, January 3, 2012.


Swimming is one of the best activities that you can perform for complete fitness. It offers toning, fat burning and cardiovascular benefits as well as being low impact, allowing older individuals and those with particularly health conditions or injuries to take part.


Swimming is a great way to tone up and trim down. This is due to the effect of moving against the resistance of the water. What’s more, swimming is an all over body work-out. For example, the standard crawl stroke uses the neck, shoulder, chest, back, triceps and biceps muscles of the upper body, the abdominal, low back and oblique muscles of the midsection, and the gluteal, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles of the legs.

Fat Burning

Since the resistance in water is more than 10 times that of air, you are also burning up more fat - American research suggests that you use up 25% more calories in water than you would if you were swimming through air. The longer you swim for the more you burn.

Heart Health

Although you won't go as far in a 20-minute swim as you will during 20 minutes of walking, running or cycling, the cardiovascular benefits are essentially the same. Furthermore, since we swim with our bodies in a horizontal position, this makes it easier for your heart to pump oxygen around your body and puts it under less strain.

The gentle pressure of the water against your skin also enhances blood circulation. Anotheradvantage of exercising in water is that it prevents your body from over-heating. This allows you to exercise for longer, thus building up your stamina and cardiovascular fitness.



Swimming seems to enhance joint flexibility, especially in the neck, shoulders, hips, and midsection area. Much of this is due to the repetitive twisting movements as your body turns from side to side during the crawl stroke.

Low Impact

The major advantage of exercising in water is that it is low impact and offers little danger to those with weak joints. This means that you can put your body through a good workout without your knees, hips or spine paying the price. Research shows that exercising in waist-deep water reduces the pressure on joints by 50% or, if you go chest-deep, by as much as 75%, because the water supports the weight of your body.

For these reasons, swimming is also the perfect exercise during pregnancy. The weight-supporting effect of water means it is especially good in the late stages when you are really struggling to get about. Unfortunately, the down side of swimming is that it won't build up much protection against brittle bone disease or osteoporosis unlike land-based, weight-bearing exercise.

How to get going?

One of the reasons many adults shy away from swimming is a lack of confidence in the water. If that is the case for you, why not enquire at your local pool for information about adult lessons? Find a pool that you like, pick a time of the day that suits and is quiet so you don’t have to fight for space. Then gradually build up the number of lengths you can do as well as your speed. It’s just like exercising on land – don’t try to run before you can walk.

Now all you have to do is swim for your life!


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