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Tuesday, 26 March 2013



By Lillian Downey

There's no exact path to slimming down. If you want a leaner look, you need to cut calories from your diet, burn calories through exercise or both. Any exercise that gets your heart rate up and keeps it up for 20 to 60 minutes at a time will burn calories and increase your fitness level. Swimming accomplishes that goal. In addition to burning calories, swimming helps build lean muscle. Lean muscle helps you burn extra calories throughout your day and gives you a firm, toned physique. Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.

Potential Calorie Burn

Swimming burns as many calories as intense exercises such as running and high-impact aerobics. In fact, you can burn 300 to more than 400 calories swimming laps for just 30 minutes, according to Harvard Medical School. If you swim for 30 minutes, then cut an additional 100 to 200 calories from your diet, you will create the 500-calorie deficit required to burn off 1 pound a week. If you swim for an hour and cut 200 to 400 calories from your diet, you'll lose 2 pounds per week.

Lean Muscle Mass

Swimming uses all your major muscle groups, according to Columbia University's Go Ask Alice health-services website. Muscle demands more calories for fuel than fat, so when you add lean muscle to your body, you burn calories at a faster rate. You'll burn these additional calories when you're exercising, but also when you're performing everyday activities. The more calories you burn, the more likely you are to slim down --- so long as you don't overeat.

Adaptive Exercise

Swimming provides one special benefit that most other forms of exercise can't match: buoyancy. Water naturally relieves joint and muscle tension associated with pregnancy, arthritis, injuries and illness that limit your mobility or range of motion. If you're pregnant, you can swim laps and increase your heart rate without the back and muscle aches associated with walking on land. If you suffer from arthritis or lack of mobility, you can perform a wide variety of exercises ranging from easy kicks to intense water aerobics, depending on your fitness and ability level, while minimizing your injury risk.

Maximizing Your Results

While any amount of exercise leads to healthy changes in your body, some exercises work more effectively than others. Intense lap swimming burns more calories than gentle kicks. Water aerobics burns more calories than water walking. Determine the most intense exercise you're comfortably able to sustain for at least 20 minutes and increase the intensity as your fitness level improves. Mix swimming with walking, weight training and other forms of exercise to keep your body from getting adjusted to the same swimming routine.


  • American College of Sports Medicine: Physical Activity and Public Health Guidelines
  • Harvard Medical School; Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Different Weights; July 2004
  • Columbia University --- Go Ask Alice!; Swimming: Good for Weight Loss?; May 12, 2008
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Balancing Calories; Feb. 15, 2011

1 comment:

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