Is Swim Training a Good Cardio Workout?

Is Swim Training a Good Cardio Workout?
Is Swim Training a Good Cardio Workout? (Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/GettyImages)

Cardiovascular exercise gets your blood pumping, raises your heart rate, boosts your lung capacity and burns calories. Swimming achieves all four of these with the added benefit of weightlessness that reduces impact on your joints. Cardiovascular exercise is only as good as the effort you put into it. Finding the appropriate pace while swimming can ensure maximum cardiovascular benefits.

A Stronger Heart

Because swimming allows you to feel relatively weightless and glide through the water, you may not realize the hard work you are doing. However, the movements involved with swimming, including stroking with your arms and kicking your legs, provide a challenging workout.

These movements require your body to send more oxygen and blood to your tissues. The heart has to pump harder to accomplish this. Because your heart consists of muscular tissue, this increased pumping strengthens your heart muscle, improving your cardiovascular conditioning.

A Quick Calorie Burn

Swimming, regardless of the stroke you use to move through the water, is an effective way to burn calories for weight management or fat loss. In 30 minutes of swimming the backstroke, a 125-pound person burns 240 calories. The same person burns 300 calories in 30 minutes of swimming the breaststroke and 330 calories in half an hour of swimming the front crawl or butterfly. The more you weigh, the more calories you'll burn. How hard you work also influences calorie burn; the higher the intensity of your swim workout, the more calories you'll burn.

Better Than Land-Based Workouts

While swimming, your heart beats an estimated 17 times less per minute when compared with working out on solid ground, according to the American Council on Exercise. However, this does not mean you are working out less strenuously or are taking away from your cardiovascular benefits. The heart is less taxed because you do not have to make impact with the ground. Additionally, swimming is an ideal exercise for those who experience knee, ankle and hip pain during high-impact exercises such as running.

Swimming For Any Level

If you are a beginning swimmer, the American Council on Exercise recommends finding a local gym or aquatics center that offers swimming lessons. A certified swimming instructor can teach you proper swimming techniques and various swimming strokes. If you are an intermediate or advanced swimmer, vary your swimming workouts to continue to challenge your cardiovascular system. You can accomplish this by increasing the duration of your swimming sessions or quickening your pace.

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