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Why Swimming Makes You Tired

by
author image Jayne Blanchard
Jayne Blanchard's work as a journalist and editor has appeared in "The Washington Post," "Psychology Today," "Brides," "Newsday," "USA Today," "Cosmopolitan," "ADAM," "Style" magazine and myriad other publications. In addition to writing about health, travel and women's issues, she has also worked as a movie reviewer and theater critic and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.
Why Swimming Makes You Tired
Swimming works all major muscle groups and can be a tiring workout. Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Spend a day at the pool or an hour swimming laps and you feel spent. Water-related tiredness often occurs after a water workout or time passed splashing away in the summer sun. Many reasons exist as to why the body experiences weariness after swimming, everything from aerobic fatigue to water temperature.

It Uses Major Muscle Groups

Swimming uses all of the major muscle groups and therefore is a demanding exercise that can tire the body. The breastroke, backstroke, butterfly and freestyle engage the abdominals, biceps and triceps, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. Other primary muscles used in swimming include the anterior and posterior deltoids, pectorals and trapezius. Because swimming involves major muscle groups, it is important to warm up with a few simple shoulder, arm and leg stretches before doing laps or taking a water aerobics class.

It Is an Aerobic Exercise

Some people mistake swimming as a nonaerobic exercise, but actually the reverse is true. Aerobic exercise is defined as that which moves large muscle groups continuously for a duration that raises the heart rate. With swimming, large muscle groups in the arms and legs move constantly and so swimming for at least 30 minutes qualifies as aerobic exercise. Keep in mind, however, that due to the bouyancy and cooling effects of water, a swimmer's heart rate will not reach the same level as the heart rate of an exerciser doing the same amount of physical activity on dry land.

It Uses Resistance

Water requires more work to move in, due to resistance. Water provides 12 times the resistance of air, despite its buoyancy. However, the buoyancy of water lessens the stress of gravity's pull on weight-bearing joints. Any stress of movement shifts to the muscles, making swimming both aerobic and anaerobic — and this exercise combination can wear you out.

Other Fatigue Factors

Water temperature affects how you feel after swimming. Cold water can cause muscle strain due to a decrease in blood flow, and also the body must work harder to stay warm. Warm pools tend to increase the body temperature, which may lead to fatigue. Ideal water temperatures for swimming are about 77 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The chlorine in pools can affect lungs, resulting in exercise-induced breathing problems and tiredness.

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