Exercise – Swimming

When people think of swimming, they generally think about splashing about in the lake during the warm summer months. However, swimming is (and should be) a year-round exercise, especially for those of us who may not be as agile on the land as we might be in the water. Swimming is a “lifetime” sport, a wonderful exercise for seniors, arthritis sufferers, and for people who have a lot of weight to lose because swimming takes the pressure off the joints while allowing for gentle movement of all your body’s muscles. It may not be a Jane Fonda “sweat ’til you die” aerobic workout, but even gentle movement is better than no movement at all. There’s something inherently relaxing about the water as well so the rhythmic repetition of swimming lengths at a moderate pace is as much of a stress buster as it is exercise. In this article we’ll take a look at hydro-activities such as exercise classes in the pool and how they uses the water as a resistance tool to help strengthen muscles, and length swimming and how to change it up every few lengths to get the most from an hour in the pool. We’ll also touch on swimming and weight loss; some say it’s helpful, some say it’s counterproductive (we’ll let you make up your own mind).


Swimming is a great way to stay healthy!Swimming works practically all of the muscles in the body (if you do a variety of strokes). Swimming can develop your overall strength, cardiovascular fitness, and stamina. As for bone density, you need to do weight bearing exercise for that, but bones aside, swimming helps with just about everything else. Swimming gives your joints a break from the jarring and pounding that jogging on hard pavement, or doing aerobic exercise on a gymnasium floor, brings with it. When immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50% of its weight; immersed to the chest, it’s 25% – 35%; and to the neck, 10%. Swimming is also desirable for people with exercise-induced asthma as the warm, humid air causes less irritation to the airways. Swimming gets you out of the summer sun (unless you’re in an outdoor pool) and it’s a wonderful activity that the whole family can enjoy together (even the dog!).

If an injury prevents you from training on land, the water offers a way to continue to train without reinjuring or aggravating the site. Or, you can simply integrate swimming into your routine as a way to cross-train, or as a warm-up or cool-down (moves blood through your muscles to help them recover). You might try an hour of yoga, followed by a few laps to cool down; what a great way to feel calm and healthy at the same time.

If you like the idea of meditation but find it hard to sit still for thirty minutes because you’re such a multi-tasker, try lap swimming. Simply relax and swim, let your mind wander, focusing on nothing but the rhythm of your stroke. This form of meditation can help you gain a feeling of wellbeing, a sense of accomplishment, and can offer you a personal challenge if you keep track of how many laps you do and how long it took you to do them. This helps chart your progress as well, shows you that your strength and stamina is improving, and helps to encourage you to stick with it. If you only have thirty minutes on your lunch hour, it’s a great way to fit in a workout (time management, goal setting) and negate the stress of the morning (stress buster) as well.


There are so many different types of exercise classes designed for the pool now, and as long as you know the purpose of each type of class, the pool’s your oyster (as it were). The density of water can provide as much as twelve times more resistance than air which helps make any land exercise (such as running and walking in waist-high water) much more effective when done in a pool. You can also do jumping jacks, lunges and squats in the water as well.

Resistance training in the pool is fun!
Resistance training in the water can now take the form of “kicking” workouts and pool running (in the shallow end) that strengthen your legs, and/or arm exercises done with empty one-gallon milk containers to strengthen your upper body and arms. Spending time in a group workout, whether water aerobics or a master’s swim practice, is a great social outlet, especially if you tend to skip workouts without a partner to be responsible to. Exchanging stories, challenging each other, and sharing in the hard work make swimming with others a rewarding experience.

You can always just hold on to the side of the pool and kick your legs out behind you, but if you prefer, kickboards provide the balance you need and help you stay afloat if you’d rather move forward through the water as you kick your legs. Conversely, you can trap the kickboard between your legs (not an easy feat in and of itself) and use only your arms to swim forward. Or, you can turn on your back and practice dragging someone to shore; kick with your legs (frog kick) while holding your arms out in front of you (as if your holding onto someone’s shoulders and bringing them to safety); you’ll be moving backward.

On the gentler side, there are “range of motion” classes designed to help those participants who are living with conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, etc. These classes involve no jarring motions, no impact or fast movements. They also focus on balance and strengthening your core muscles.

Swimming burns calories at the rate of 3 calories a mile per pound of bodyweight. If you weight 150 lbs, and it takes you 30 minutes to swim a mile, you will burn 900 calories in one hour.


For some reason, swimming has a reputation for being less effective than other forms of exercise when it comes to weight loss.

One theory says that the water submersion initiates a complex nerve pathway that lowers metabolism, and with a lower metabolic rate, the body uses fewer calories to maintain normal function.

Another theory says that when you swim in colder water, it initiates a stronger desire for food afterward. It’s also been noted that female swimmers have fought battles with their body fat levels as the levels are typically higher than that of female runners or cyclists.

Swim to lose weight.
Other studies have shown that swimmers can lose as much weight as others who walk or cycle. 1. While studies are ongoing on this subject, swimming can be a boon for weight loss if you follow the same principles as with any other exercise and challenge yourself. You can also try incorporating interval training; push yourself harder for short spurts and then drop back to a less-intense level of swimming before going hard again.

In conclusion, if you enjoy it, do it! Any form of exercise that gets your body moving is a bonus. It’s one of the least expensive sports to get involved in (a swimsuit and a towel), it’s an easy way to get back into a fitness routine, and there are indoor swimming pools everywhere!


1. Is Swimming Good for Weight Loss?

Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 12 years experience in her area of expertise, natural health and wellness, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch Practitioner, and Reflexologist.

The suggestions by Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods and the contents of this article
are recommendations only and not a substitute for any medical advice or a
replacement for any prescriptions. Seek medical advice for any health concerns.
Consult your health care provider before using any recommendations herein.

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