Swimming laps provides a moderate to intense aerobic workout that can help you burn calories and manage your weight. Swimming can also help you strengthen muscles in your upper body, lower body and core. Some strokes work core muscles better than others. If you want to tone your abdominals, focus on the butterfly and freestyle strokes.
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The freestyle, the fastest of the competitive swimming strokes, tones your glutes, abs, shoulders and back, according to the “Daily Mail.” This stroke combines a scissor kick with an overhead arm pull in which the two arms move in an alternating rhythm. Swimmers face the bottom of the pool as they swim, turning their heads out of the water only to breathe. To work your abdominal muscles while swimming freestyle, use your core to stabilize your body and keep your torso straight.
The butterfly stroke also tones the abdominal muscles, as well as the chest, arms, triceps and back. This stroke combines a dolphin kick with an overhead arm pull in which the two arms move together. Use your abdominal muscles to support your torso as you lift your chin above water to take a breath.
One hour of swimming laps can burn about 511 calories for a 160-lb. adult, 637 calories for a 200-lb. adult and 763 calories for a 240-lb. adult, according to MayoClinic.com. The freestyle burns about 100 calories every 10 minutes, and the butterfly burns about 150 calories every 10 minutes, according to the “Daily Mail.” The longer you spend swimming and the more intense your effort, the more calories you will burn.
Aerobic workouts such as swimming laps provide a variety of health benefits. A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week can help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and some cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. Regular physical activity can also help improve your energy levels, mood and the quality of your sleep. Swimming workouts provide nonweight-bearing, nonimpact exercise that puts less stress on your bones and joints than running or other high-impact workouts.