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Water Workouts: 5 Styles of Swimming to Help You Lose Weight

Dec 17, 2010

Swimming is one of several low impact water workouts. This sport can help improve overall fitness, increase muscle tone and lead to weight loss.

How Swimming Improves Fitness

Swimming provides you with an aerobic workout similar to cycling or running. Yet due to the 12 to 14 percent increase in resistance from water compared to air, you also tone muscles while swimming without the need to use weights. Through the repetitive movements of a swim stroke, you also enhance joint flexibility while swimming, especially in the shoulders, hips, neck and core.

Swimming and Weight Loss

Swimming burns between 475 to 750 calories an hour for the 150-pound woman, depending on the stroke. Compare this to walking, which burns approximately 270 calories an hour, and swimming may help you lose weight faster than other activities. When you combine a 30- to 45-minute swimming workout with a healthy diet, you can achieve weight loss and increase muscle mass to give you a firm, lean, defined body.

Swimming Style #1: Sidestroke

Considered the most basic swimming stoke, the sidestroke is performed while lying sideways in the water. One arm is extended straight out above the shoulder. The arms are then alternated backward and forward. Simultaneously, you perform a scissor kick. A 150-pound person burns 544 calories an hour doing the sidestroke.

Swimming Style #2: Front Crawl

The front crawl, or freestyle, is the standard swimming stroke. In this stoke, you alternate overarm strokes while continuously flutter kicking your feet. You are face down in the water and breath by rotating your head from side-to-side. A 150-pound person burns 476 calories an hour doing the front crawl at a light pace and 680 calories an hour at a vigorous pace.

Swimming Style #3: Backstroke

The backstroke is similar to the front crawl except that you float face up instead of face down. Again, you alternate overarm strokes while continuously flutter kicking. A 150-pound person burns 476 calories an hour doing the backstroke.

Swimming Style #4: Breaststroke

During the breaststroke, you begin with your palms touching and pulled into your chest. This should be similar to being in prayer. Extend arms simultaneously outward at shoulder height with palms facing down. Next, turn your palms outward and push in a semicircle motion until they return to the starting position. Begin with your legs extended behind you in a streamlined position. Bring your knees up, kick out and then return the legs to the streamline position, similar to a frog kick. A 150-pound person burns 680 calories an hour doing the breaststroke.

Swimming Style #5: Butterfly

The butterfly is considered the most difficult swimming stoke. During this stoke, you move your arms simultaneously in a windmill-like motion. Begin with arms stretched out in front of you, with thumbs touching, and then pull down towards your waist. As your arms get close to your waist, bring them out of the water over your head. At the same time, you employ a dolphin kick. You breathe by popping your head out of the water as you are pulling your arms down to your waist. A 150-pound person burns 748 calories an hour doing the butterfly stroke.

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