Swimming is one of the most effective low-impact aerobic exercises. It improves posture, uplifts mood, tones all the body muscles, enhances lung capacity, and increases flexibility and muscle coordination. In fact, swimming can actually help improve your lifestyle. But, does it aid weight loss? Or is it just a myth? Read on to find out!
Does Swimming Aid Weight Loss?
Yes, you can lose weight by swimming, but you have to follow the right guidelines to burn the fat. I say that because swimming is an aerobic exercise, and to burn fat, you have to swim between 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. If you don’t do that, you will not be able to burn enough calories. Also, if you exceed this range, the exercise will shift to anaerobic, and you will be unable to swim for a longer duration. But, a few studies have found that people may gain weight instead of losing it. Also, professional swimmers have more body fat percentage as compared to athletes at the same level. However, your goal here is to burn the fat by swimming, and you can achieve that by maintaining the recommended heart rate. Here’s how you can calculate it in just two steps.
How To Calculate Heart Rate For Swimming To Burn Fat
Follow these simple steps to calculate your heart rate to burn fat by swimming:
- Subtract your age from 220 to find out your maximum heart rate. If you are 25, subtract 25 from 220, which is equal to 195. So, 195 is your maximum heart rate.
- Now, to burn fat, you need to have your heart rate at 60% – 80% of 195, i.e., between 117-154 BPM.
To maintain this heart rate, you should wear a heart rate monitor when you swim. Now, the next big question is, how to lose weight by swimming. Fret not, here’s your answer.
How To Lose Weight By Swimming
First, you should try swimming for 60 minutes, 5-6 days a week. If you are a new swimmer, you can start by swimming 3 days a week for 30 minutes. Then, as you get more and more comfortable with your breathing and swimming technique, you can increase the duration and swim 6 days a week.
Your goal should be to reach a fitness level where you can swim 20 laps without stopping. If you are already a fine swimmer, you can lose weight by maintaining the required heart rate to burn the fat and do interval swimming. For example, you can do 3 laps at one go and then complete 1 lap slower than the other three. Take a break for 30 seconds and repeat this set. Do this for 60 minutes to mobilize the fat.
You can try different types of swimming strokes to keep your swimming fun and engaging. Here’s the list of strokes that aid weight loss.
5 Types Of Swimming Strokes For Weight Loss
When it comes to swimming for weight loss, your technique is of utmost importance. If you use the wrong technique, you will quickly exhaust yourself and not be able to burn fat. Here are 5 types of swimming strokes that will help you get back in shape:
1. Freestyle Stroke
The freestyle stroke or the front crawl is one of the fastest swimming strokes. This stroke is often used in swimming competitions. Here’s how you should do it.
Freestyle Stroke Steps
- Float in the water with your face down, your body flat, the arms extended but slightly bent, and the palms facing down.
- Now, pull your right arm from the starting position, in a semicircular motion and in line with your body, towards your thigh.
- Let your right hand leave the water. Ensure that it is slightly bent at the elbow, with the palm facing down. Reach forward and re-enter the water with your fingertips.
- While you do the above step, turn your face towards your right, breathe in, and as your fingertips re-enter the water, turn your face down.
- Do the same on your left side.
- Make sure your legs are straight, ankles relaxed, and you move your feet up and down to make a flutter motion to help you move forward.
2. Butterfly Stroke
The butterfly stroke is also known as “fly” and is one of the most difficult swimming strokes. It is the second fastest stroke, and it helps to burn fat and strengthen your muscles. Here’s how you should do it.
Butterfly Stroke Steps
- Float in the water with your face down, your body flat, arms shoulder-width apart and extended but slightly bent, and the palms facing down.
- Pull down your arms, palms facing down, elbows at a higher position than your hands, and move your hands in a semicircular motion towards your body.
- Recover both your arms in a sweeping motion out of the water and let your hands re-enter the water, with your arms in the same position as in the starting position.
- As your arms just come out of the water, lift your chin, look straight, and breathe in.
- Your leg action should be like that of a mermaid. Keep both your legs together, toes pointed out, and kick downward.
- The first kick should be small after your arms re-enter the water.
- The second kick should be more powerful to help you move forward when your arms are in the recovery phase.
- Your body should form an undulating S-shape to make the swimming effective.
The backstroke, also known as back crawl, is much slower than the freestyle stroke or butterfly stroke. Here’s how you should do it.
- Float on your back with your legs straight, toes pointed, and the arms extended over your head. Float lightly on the water with the palms facing upward, and your face above the water surface. Look straight up.
- Put your right arm under water. Move it in a semicircular motion, pushing the water backward with the help of your palm, and then recover your arm from the water.
- As you recover your right arm from the water, put your left arm under water and repeat step 2.
- Move your right hand in back to the starting position.
- Make sure you flutter your feet to help propel you forward.
The breaststroke is also called the “froggy” stroke by children as this swimming technique resembles the way frogs swim. Here’s how you should do it.
- Float in the water with your face down, your body flat, arms extended over your head, and both the palms closer and facing down.
- Turn your palms outward. Keep your arms straight, and pull water from above your head to your chest.
- As your palms reach your chest level, fold your arms back and move both the arms together over your head to the starting position.
- As you do so, lift your head up and breathe in air.
- Extend your arms forward, submerge your head in the water, and exhale slowly through your mouth or nose. Keep your legs together, and your toes pointed out.
- Flex your legs, bring your heels close your glutes, and point your toes toward your shins. Now, kick the water backward to help you move forward.
The sidestroke is a fun swimming technique that can help improve your hand-leg coordination. It is very effective for water gymnastics. Here’s how you should do it.
- Float sideways with your bottom arm extended and legs together. Tilt your head up and look sideways.
- Your legs should perform the scissor action. Flex both your legs and move the top leg forward and bottom leg backward and bring them back to the starting position in a circular motion.
- Your bottom arm is the lead arm that will pull the water from above your head. Your top arm is the trail arm that helps push the pulled water downward.
- As the trail arm pushes the water back, the lead arm moves forward to the starting position.
- This collective action of the lead arm and the trail arm, along with the scissor action of the legs, helps your body to move forward.
These 5 stroke types will help you burn the fat and get a slim and toned body. But surprisingly, water also plays an important part in helping you to shed the fat. Here’s how.
Why Water Works
Water is about 800 times denser than air. This makes water the ideal medium to burn calories as it provides resistance to any body movement. Since swimming involves moving all the parts of the body and using force to move against resistance, it makes any kick, push, pull, or recovery activity more effective. This kickstarts your metabolism and helps you burn calories for hours after you are done with your day’s swimming. Water also helps to nullify gravity, and you can easily float. It also makes exercising easier on your bones and muscles, thereby reducing the chances of injury.
So, you see, everything works in your favor. But, here are some more reasons we recommend swimming for weight loss.
Benefits Of Swimming For Weight Loss
- Swimming helps to improve cardiovascular health.
- It helps to reduce weight, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes, PCOD, and stroke.
- It helps lower blood pressure.
- Swimming helps to slow down aging and can make you look almost 20 years younger.
- It helps improve your sleep quality.
- It helps to improve lung capacity.
- Swimming regularly can help increase flexibility.
- It also helps to reduce gout and arthritis pain.
- It can also help you recover from an injury.
- Swimming improves muscle strength, power, and endurance.
- It helps you feel more relaxed and uplifts your mood.
- You can have a great time with friends and can help each other reach your target weight.
You can add variety to your swimming routine by adding fins, kickboards, and hand paddles. This way, you will not be bored of following the same routine every day. And, of course, do not forget to include these in your swimming kit.
What Your Swimming Kit Should Contain
- Bathing cap – to protect your hair and also reduce resistance in the water.
- Swimming goggles – to protect your eyes and also help you see clearly under water.
- Swim fins – required while learning the butterfly stroke.
- Nose slip – required while learning the backstroke.
- Kickboard – floating device.
- Water noodles – long, flexible foam cylinders used for floating.
- Pull buoys – 8-shaped foam floatation devices used to keep the legs afloat.
Looks like you are all set to start swimming. But hey, there’s one last thing I want to warn you about. Take a look at the next section to find out.
You may feel very hungry right after swimming, which can make you gain weight instead of losing it. So, keep your healthy snack ready before you go for a swim. Consume fiber-rich, proteinaceous, and nutrient-rich foods and avoid sugary foods, processed foods, and foods loaded with trans fats.
Check out the next section to find out answers to a few commonly asked questions.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How many calories can you burn in an hour by swimming?
Depending on your current body weight and level of expertise, you can burn anywhere between 400-700 calories per hour.
Can swimming improve your figure and muscle tone?
Yes, if you swim regularly for 60 minutes at the required heart rate, you can improve your figure and muscle tone.
Will swimming improve flexibility?
Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that requires you to use all your body parts. This, in turn, can help improve your body’s flexibility to a great extent.
Will swimming improve strength?
Yes, swimming will help improve your muscle strength. It is a low-impact but effective exercise where you need to use your body muscles to propel yourself forward. This ultimately helps to strengthen the muscles.
To conclude, swimming is a great exercise to lose weight and perk up your life. So, get your swimming essentials today to lose weight the fun way. Good luck!
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