Swimming is a great sport. It not only helps you to be fit like a fiddle, it is a great stress buster, calorie burner, and mood lifter too. Also it gives you a total body workout in one single session. ‘Swimming is a safe form of exercise for anyone from age two to 60. And if you are overweight there are more reasons why you should swim. Because no other activity will make you burn calories like swimming to help you get trimmer,’ says Vibhas Sen, a Paralympic national level swimmer from Mumbai.
Here’s what swimming does to your body while keeping a check on your weight:
It helps to burn calories: First, choose a trainer to learn the basics to do it the right way. ‘Swimming is not about just moving your hands and legs when in the pool. It has a technique and a method to be followed. If you want good returns out of it, do it right. You can learn and master the basics in three or four weeks with proper training,’ says Vibhas. Depending on your weight and the exertion level you can burn anywhere between 90 to 550 calories in an half an hour session. You can keep increasing the numbers as you extend your practise and become more agile and fast with the strokes doing more laps. ‘Also be regular with the activity. Discipline and attitude go a long way in aiding your weight loss progress,’ says Vibhas.
It is resistance workout at its best: ‘While swimming, you are working against the resistance of water. Imagine the amount of energy and exertion you put in while trying to propel your body forward. This activity makes you burn calories, ups your BMR or basal metabolic rate to boost your metabolism, tones your muscles and gives your entire body a push,’ says Vibhas. Swimming is a healthy way of losing weight. ‘Unlike a gym session where you might be focusing on one or two body parts a day, while swimming you work on your entire body, all the important muscles groups with your limbs and no added props,’ says Vibhas. While Olympian swimmer Rehan Poncha says that, ‘Though swimming can engage muscles that you may not necessarily work on in the gym but you need to be able to train 5-10 kilometres a day and work at that particular heart rate which requires you to lose weight, if not you are not really going to be successful.’ He also advises to supplement your swim sessions with gym or other cardio activities till you reach that level.
It boosts your cardiovascular fitness: Any exercise that makes you breathe heavy indicates that it’s making your body work harder. And swimming is no different. ‘Swimming is the best cardiovascular fitness activity you can ever imagine doing. It ups your heart rate and makes your lungs healthier. After few weeks of practice you would be able to do more laps and strokes without tiring out fast. The other benefits are that your resting heart rate would decrease and your blood pressure would be more controlled,’ says Vibhas.
It makes your body stronger: Once in a while a gym enthusiast or any other fitness freak would complain of backaches or joint pains. And this is very common. But for a swimmer pain is not a problem. ‘Due to the weightlessness that you feel under water you can strengthen your back and joints with your perfect strokes without exerting or adding more stress or tension on them. Imagine when you are standing or working out in the gym, your entire body weight is on your back and legs. This often makes the back and joints sore and would need more attention and care. But inside the pool you can workout to the maximum and help your sore body heal and recover faster too,’ says Vibhas.
It makes you more flexible: Due to the nature of the movement required in performing the swimming strokes it can aid in improving the flexibility of the muscles and makes the joints more agile.
Prepare right to get into the pool
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