Swimming laps in the pool is a great way to develop a variety of muscle systems throughout your body and to help keep your total weight down. People who swim regularly are more likely to be in good physical condition and are less likely to be overweight or obese. Swimming is a low impact sport that allows you to exercise without causing potential stress or injury to various parts of your body in the way that many land exercises do. Because it can be difficult to determine how much energy you're expending while you swim laps in the pool, though, it's important to realize how much is enough.
Swimming and Calorie Loss
One of the important things to keep in mind about swimming as a way of maintaining or losing excess weight is that swimming is not as effective as many other types of exercise at accomplishing these goals. The reason for this has to do with the amount of calories that your body burns after you're through with the exercise, and it means that you'll need to actually swim more in order to achieve the same total caloric loss that you would with an exercise like running.
While swimming, your body maintains a more even temperature while in the water than it does while you're exercising on land. After you finish your workout, your body has to work less to return to a normal temperature and stasis point. This is as opposed to an on land exercise routine, where your body may spend hours returning to the normal temperature and burning off additional calories as it does so.
Types of Strokes
As with other types of exercises that have different variations, the stroke that you swim with will have an impact on how many calories you can burn while you're in the pool. Your technique can also have an impact on how hard you'll have to swim. For instance, someone swimming freestyle with poor technique will tend to burn many more calories over the course of a set number of laps than someone with excellent technique, because the second person is more efficient at swimming.
Depending upon the type of stroke that you do, how hard you swim and how good your technique is, swimming can burn anywhere from about 500 to 1,200 calories per hour.
Preventing Injury in the Pool
Although one of the primary benefits of swimming as opposed to other types of exercise is that it can be done without putting impact stress on different parts of your body, it is still possible to injure yourself while swimming. It's a good idea to limit any swimming session to about one hour. If you continue to train for much more than this, you'll find that your body is likely to succumb to muscle stresses and other injuries. Unfortunately, you may not be aware of these injuries while you're swimming, so it's important to plan ahead when budgeting your exercise time.