How Swimming Fights Obesity

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How Swimming Fights Obesity

ObHow Swimming Fights Obesity                                                      February 2016


Swimming is THE best cardio, pulmonary and skeletal exercise one can do. It gives you the best full body work out and it’s easy on the joints and more!

Cardio exercises are those that use rhythmic motion using large muscle groups that increase the heart rate. Increasing the heart rate, raises the body temperature which in turn causes your body to burn calories.

Combined with proper nutrition, swimming is an excellent exercise for people who can not do weight bearing exercises like running or jogging. Swimming combines both upper and lower body work at the same time, while also using the resistance of the water…giving you that total body workout.

Swimming increases core strength and balance. Ideally doing 30-60 minutes 3-4 times a week can reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, lower bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.

Swimming is a low impact and non weight bearing so it’s very helpful for people with limitations due to obesity; range of motion issues and injuries. Swimming stretches your muscles and increases mobility with 80-90% less weight pressing on bones/joints. With that much less weight, you’re likely to have much less pain allowing you to swim more and burn more calories.

Always consult your doctor before doing any new exercise regime. Stretch and do warm up exercises for a few minutes before entering the water. Start off slowly, gradually building your time to the recommended 60-90 minutes of exercise a day. Using the noodles, kickboards, water dumbbells and ankle and wrist weights will add resistance to your routine. So will adding interval training, where you vary the speed of your laps to increase your heart rate.   For sustained weight loss, aim for 60-90 minutes 4-5 days a week.

Swimming breast stroke or backstroke will burn the same number of calories as a slow jog or fast walk. Your best result comes from coupling healthy eating in appropriate portion sizes with this exercise

How to start?   Get lessons!! All of us have seen that person beating their way across the pool. They reach the other side and they are done.   That’s not helpful. Learning the proper technique; body position and breathing skills will help you be more effective and efficient in the water; which in turn will help you swim more leading to the weight loss. It’s not just swimming more laps that’s important; it’s also swimming them using the proper technique.

So how do you get started once you’ve attained the skills? Start slowly. Swim a lap of 25 yards or meters and rest for a minute before swimming the next lap. Take that rest in between your laps. In a few days, try shortening that rest period to 45 seconds; then 30 seconds, then 15 seconds. When ready, try swimming two laps (50 yards) consecutively, resting in between, then go to 3 laps (75 yards), then 4 (100 yards). Soon you will be swimming ½ mile (36 laps of a 25 yard pool) and eventually a mile (72 laps of a 25 yard pool). While certainly you can swim laps on your own, having a buddy do them with you is so much more fun! You may eventually want to consider a Masters Swim Team to join for more challenging workouts and the great social benefits of joining a group of people who enjoy the sport as much as you do.

Learning to swim the competitive strokes is great for your overall workout. See how many calories are burned per hour swimming each stroke. Breast Stroke 400; Backstroke 500; Freestyle 600 and Butterfly a whopping 900!! Compare that to walking at 3 mph for an hour to burn 200 calories; cycling at 14 mph for an hour to burn 500 calories and running at 8mph to burn 810 calories.

So you can see that adding swimming to your fitness routine is a great way to burn those calories and lose weight too.

What are you waiting for?


Shawn Slevin is the founder of Swim Strong Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit in NYC that saves and changes lives by providing affordable water safety and swim skill programs. Our mission is to reduce drowning deaths and non-fatal submersion injuries as well as increase overall health. We work with ages 3 through seniors; people afraid of the water to those skilled athletes who want to improve their competitive technique for speed and endurance. We also have an adaptive program for children with special needs.

Join us for a class!





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