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Swimming For Weight Loss: Does It Work?

Medical Daily logo Medical Daily 5 days ago Darwin Malicdem

It is important to stay physically active amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Exercise plays an important role during these challenging times when people need a stronger immune system and a way to avoid sudden weight gain. 

One activity that has been getting little attention but could provide many benefits is swimming. It works as both a cardio and a strength workout that requires almost every part of the body to move. 

Swimming has several positive effects on the body, from increased heart rate, more calories burned to weight loss. Doing different strokes and fighting the water’s resistance may also help strengthen muscles.

“Although swimming seems relatively hard and sometimes scary, it’s one of the best cardiovascular workouts anyone of any age can do,” Kris Gagne, senior swim coach for Life Time and a U.S. registered and ASCA certified swim coach, told Women's Health. “It’s an aerobic workout that helps strengthen the heart muscle, and it’s easy on your joints, too, since the water will support 90 percent of your body weight.”

Swimming As Weight Loss Exercise

When swimming, the arms, legs and core work equally. Because of the full-body activity, Gagne said swimming “can absolutely help you lose weight.”

A Harvard University study estimated that a 125-pound person who does 30 minutes of either freestyle or butterfly can burn 330 calories. Doing breaststroke may help cut 300 calories, while backstroke can burn 240 calories.

To those starting to add swimming to their weight loss routine, Gagne recommended doing it for 30 minutes three times a week. The certified swim coach added that beginners should do more breaststroke since it offers more benefits than other techniques.

“I start with this one because it’s one that does burn quite a bit of calories, and it allows newer swimmers to keep their heads out of water at first, at least until they become more comfortable with swimming and breathing technique,” Gagne said. 

After four weeks, check if your body got comfortable swimming for 30 minutes. You can then increase your speed or time spent in the pool to burn more calories. 

To those who want a more challenging workout, increase resistance in the water by adding flippers, resistance bands or any items that make it harder for you to kick and stroke. Trying different strokes also makes a huge difference, mainly butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle. 

However, swimming alone will not help you lose weight. It is important to combine it with a healthy diet to manage your calories. Eating the right food will also boost your energy to do more exercise during the day. 

a person swimming in a pool of water © Pexels


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