If you are trying to get fit and aiming for weight loss, diet and exercise are your best options. But while weight training or cardio are preferred options for most fitness lovers, swimming is an underrated activity which can help you burn calories and shed excess kilos just as well.
Swimming offers a full-body workout and tones your muscles, as well as builds endurance. It also does wonders for your cardiovascular health. Being a low-impact activity, it doesn’t impact the joints and is advised for people suffering from arthritis or with injuries that prevent them from running. It is also a safe exercise for pregnant women.
“An hour’s swim can make an individual burn up to 400 calories or more if done vigorously. Resistance gear can make the workout even more intense,” says integrative nutritionist Payal Kothari.
And just 30 minutes of swimming can help you stay flexible, reduce inflammation and relieve depression and stress, says Carlyne Remedios, group manager–clinical practices and nutrition, Digestive Health Institute by Dr Muffi.
Wondering how does swimming help you lose weight, especially since it doesn’t help in spot reduction? Since it uses all muscle groups (large and small), it can lead to quicker weight loss than other workouts. “Swimming with resistance is harder than being on the treadmill. You could increase and decrease the intensity without stressing the body. It helps burn more calories and works the core continuously burning more belly fat. And doing some crunches post the swim could further help in toning the abs,” says Kothari.
Swimming also has an after-burn, so the calories are burnt even after the swim. “You increase muscle mass, which increases your metabolism and helps you burn fat even while not exercising,” explains Remedios. But, bear in mind, diet is of great importance if you have chosen swimming as your main workout. “You can’t be eating too many calories if your aim is to lose weight with swimming,” says Kothari.
To strengthen and tone your stomach and abdominal muscles as well as lose weight, try the breaststroke, freestyle, sidestroke, butterfly, and backstroke. For beginners, it’s best to start with 30 minutes of moderate intensity swimming 3-5 times a week, while regular swimmers can practise for an hour.