Aflete knows finding the right exercise for you can be tough and with so much emphasis on toning specific body parts with specific exercises it can be easy to overlook one of the greatest forms of exercise that can hit your whole body at the same time. Swimming isn’t just great exercise, it’s also great fun. Swimming has many advantages over other forms of exercise as it can be done low impact for beginners or much more vigorously for athletic individuals.  

Enjoy this great article about why you should try swimming for fitness and weight loss. 

How swimming can help you to lose weight, build muscle and feel great!

Swimming is generally regarded as a great way to help you to improve your heart rate and blood flow and to help maintain a healthy weight. But for a lot of people that’s where they see the benefits of swimming end, without realising all the little muscle building and fat burning benefits that swimming provides that other forms of exercise do not.

Hitting the pool for a good few laps not only helps with your general physical fitness, but it provides a number of other benefits such as breath control and muscle toning. There are few workouts that you can do that offer so many peripheral benefits, allowing you to tone muscle, burn fat and wear Speedos all at once.

1. Muscle toning

As water is 12 times as dense as air, swimming is a far more effective way of toning your muscles than any other form of cardiovascular exercise that you can do on land. When you swim you get the cardio part of your workout while also working on an even body tone. Working out in water provides a certain amount of water resistance, which has a similar effect as using a light weight on a resistance machine at the gym. However, submersion in water creates a more even, controlled resistance on the body so there’s no concern about having to count or equalise repetitions when it’s time for lifting. The amount of resistance involved will be relative to the force you are pushing the water with, which allows you to control how hard you’re working with ease.

2. Forces you to work on your breathing

There is a far higher level of moisture present in the air when you’re at a swimming pool in comparison to the dry air that you’ll experience at a gym. The moisture in the air makes it far easier to breath, perfect for those that suffer with asthma and find cardio in the gym or in the park that bit too hard on their lungs. Studies have shown that swimming can vastly improve asthma symptoms, even a whole year after your swimming routine stops. Swimming is not only beneficial to asthma sufferers however, it can also help to increase your lung volume and force you to learn better breathing techniques that can aid you when lifting weights or running.

3. Work out for longer with less stress on your body

As water has the handy habit of supporting your bodyweight, it serves as a great way for people with injuries or those suffering from obesity to get a good workout, without risk of over doing it and causing further physical issues. Swimming is also one of the few sports that doesn’t cause any stress to the skeletal system. When you workout in a pool you are far less likely to make contact with any hard surfaces that may put a strain on your body as all of your motions will be cushioned by the protective barrier of the water. Even better, if you’re swimming in a heated pool, the heat will loosen joints and muscles that will help prevent injuries during your workout.

4. Get flexible

When you’re at the gym you’ll tend to use isolation machines that work specific areas of the body, where as swimming allows you to use a lot of the bodies muscles at the same time. The strokes that utilise a wide arc such as front crawl  target a lot of the arm muscles that are missed in basic exercises, while the scissoring movement made with your legs forces your body to use more of your leg muscles in a plethora of fluid motions. Swimming is also really helpful as a way to elongate and stretch out your whole body as you keep reaching further out with your strokes.

5.  Mental tranquility

Unsurprisingly the idea of endlessly running around a track or cycling on a stationary bike doesn’t appeal to a lot of people and can actually prove to be quite stressful. Swimming actually boosts endorphins in the body that increase feelings of wellbeing. Studies have shown that swimming produces the same “relaxation responses” as yoga, and the stretching and contracting of your muscles can heighten this experience. Not only does swimming increase relaxation chemicals, it is also highly conducive to meditation.

Stroke your way to bigger muscles

front stroke

The front crawl 

Best for those that prefer more fast-paced swimming as it generates the most force of any stroke. As the front crawl requires such a rapid movement of your arms, going from above your head to down by the sides of your body, you will tap into your fast-twitch muscle fibre potential, which will lead to improvements in your power and speed.

Main muscles used: Chest and lats

front crawl

The breaststroke

The stroke that requires the most coordination and skill as you have to move your lower and upper body in sync. However, this stroke is not typically performed at great speed, so it’s better for overall strength building and cardiovascular exercise.

Main muscles used: Shoulders, chest and arms

Backstroke

The backstroke

The least intensive of all the strokes, best for a recovery swim between intense workouts at the gym.

Main muscles used: Back / lats, hamstrings

butterfly swimming

The butterfly

The most difficult and intense of all swimming strokes and by far the most difficult to master. The butterfly will really kick your fat burning into high gear. It’s perfect for boosting your metabolism and is a great stroke to perform as interval training sessions when you’re in the water.

Main muscles used: Chest, shoulders and back

Article written by Andre Jackson for www.mensfitness.co.uk  

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