One of the questions that I hear the most often from my Personal Training clients is “is swimming for fitness effective?” Many people with the goal of losing weight & gaining muscle want to know whether swimming works to accomplish both goals.
So should you jump into the pool & start swimming laps? Well, it depends. It depends on what your personal needs, preferences, & goals are. Keep on reading below for more about the connection between swimming & fitness.
The Benefits of Swimming
There can be no denying that swimming has many benefits. However, how much of these benefits you unlock depends greatly on how you go about swimming.
For instance, swimming on your back doesn’t take a whole lot of energy. On the other hand, a stroke such as the breaststroke or front crawl uses far more muscle & expends more energy.
Another thing to take into consideration is effort. Swimming is much more beneficial for fitness if you are giving it your all. If you are trying to beat a personal best time, the cardio workout will be much greater.
The best reason to use swimming, in my opinion, is as a way to stay in shape while recovering from injury. Those that have knee problems will find swimming much more agreeable than running, bicycling, & other forms of cardio training.
Swimming is also a soothing & relaxing activity. I know a lot of people that swim not necessarily because it is the best exercise out there but because they love how it allows them to relax & empty their minds.
The Drawbacks of Swimming
While swimming is a whole lot better than not exercising at all, there can be no denying that is had its drawbacks. Chief among these is that it is primarily cardiovascular & doesn’t really build strength or larger muscles. If this is part of your fitness goal, then you would do well to combine your swimming routine with weight training.
Swimming definitely does burn off calories but it does so in a slightly different way than other activities. Unlike other forms of exercise, you stop swimming calories shortly after you get out of the water. Other forms of exercise, like my Cardio Conditioning, allow you to burn calories long after stopping the exercise for the day. You might have heard of me refer to this as the Afterburn Effect.
Final Thoughts on Swimming for Exercise
At the end of the day, swimming can be a great workout for your body. It is a fun fitness activity that works your entire body. Best of all, you can do it by yourself or with others. Unfortunately, swimming is not the best exercise for losing weight or gaining muscle. So if you decide to swim, you should base that decision off of what your personal fitness goals are.