Swimming is a great way to tone up and trim down, because to swim you need to move
your body against the resistance of the water. Just to go a few lengths can involve
most of the major muscles, giving your body a great tone up. If you crank up the
pace you get a brilliant aerobic workout that's easy on the joints!
If you're a convert already, you will also know how alive you feel in the water
and how relaxed you feel when you get out. As you glide along, the water seems to
massage your muscles and clear your mind. Even after a vigorous workout, you feel
refreshed and relaxed.
It's recommended that beginners swim 12-20 minutes, building endurance with time.
As you progress, you'll be able to swim farther and faster at each workout, and
the efficiency of your strokes will improve. Intermediate swimmers should swim
20-50 minutes and advanced swimmers 30-90 minutes.
The freestyle, or crawl, is the most efficient and strenuous stroke. A 150 pound
person burns about 8.5 calories a minute swimming freestyle.
If you tire, switch to a less strenuous stroke, such as the sidestroke or breaststroke,
or swim a few laps with a kickboard. Swimming in sets - 4 laps freestyle, 4 laps
breaststroke, 4 laps backstroke, for example - will make your workout more interesting
and will exercise more muscles.
Because swimming along with the chlorine used by most pools makes you skin dry,
always remember to bring some moisturising soap for the shower afterwards plus
a healthy snack to satisfy the inevitable post swim hunger.