Is Swimming Effective for Weight Loss?

Find out whether swimming is the right exercise for you if you're trying to lose a few pounds

Swimming is an activity that many people enjoy. The buoyancy of the water and the warm rays of the sun make for a supremely pleasant workout. There’s little doubt that swimming can be pleasurable, but can it help you lose those last few pounds? Is swimming for weight loss effective?

Swimming for Weight Loss: How Many Calories Can You Burn?
Swimming for weight loss has been a topic of controversy for many years. Some experts believe that swimming is less effective than other cardiovascular exercises when it comes to burning calories and fat. But the reality is that swimming for weight control can be effective depending on the how fast and how long you swim. Swimming gives all of the major muscles as well as the heart a workout. A slow crawl can burn almost 300 calories in thirty minutes and a fast crawl burns around 400 calories during the same time period. In contrast, running for thirty minutes at a speed of 8 minutes/mile burns around 450 calories in a half hour. Obviously, swimming can burn major calories, but it’s not easy to swim continuously for thirty minutes even at a slow crawl. On the other hand, if you’re able to swim at a fast crawl for thirty minutes, you can get a workout that’s almost equivalent to a running.

What Are the Advantages?
Swimming does offer some advantages over running. The water adds up to fourteen percent more resistance which means that the upper body gets a toning, strength building workout while burning calories at the same time. Plus, it’s gentle on the joints which is ideal for people with arthritis or other conditions where running isn’t suitable. Swimming provides a gentler form of resistance training for those who don’t want to weight train.

Swimming for Weight Loss: Choose Warmer Waters
If you choose swimming for weight control, it’s best to swim in warmer water. One study showed that people who swam in cold water pools took in more calories after swimming than those who swam in warmer waters. It seems that swimming in cold water stimulates the appetite resulting in greater calorie consumption. It also doesn’t appear that swimming gives the same after-burn affect seen with high intensity land training where a larger number of calories are burned for several hours after exercising. This may be somewhat of a disadvantage to people using swimming primarily for weight loss.

Swimming for Weight Loss: Make It Part of a Bigger Plan
To use swimming for weight loss, it’s best to alternate swimming with running, jogging, or a fast power walk. This will burn more calories than swimming at a slower pace and will give your workout enough variety to keep your metabolism primed. Swimming burns a significant number of calories and is and an excellent way to add additional variety to an exercise routine, but may not be the best overall exercise for serious weight loss.

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