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You Asked: Swimming and Weight Loss

You're asking and I'm answering . . .
Hi Fit!
I already have a regular, fairly vigorous weekly fitness routine including spin classes, yoga/Pilates and weight training, but I'd like to incorporate some variety. I was thinking about swimming, but I keep hearing that swimming isn't very good as a cardio/weight-loss activity. I am just wondering if you knew whether the "warnings" against swimming as a "bad" form of exercise are valid?

Investigating Swimming Sei

I have heard swimming much maligned as a form of exercise, and like most things in this complicated world of ours there are both pros and cons to swimming.

It is a full body exercise, but most of the work taxes the upper body so the lower body isn't challenged much. Because our leg muscles are the largest muscle group in our bodies, swimming doesn't work your total muscle mass. Swimming is also a non-weight bearing exercise, so while it doesn't help maintain bone density and ward off osteoporosis, it saves your feet, ankles and knee joints from wear and tear. These two reasons are why I think swimming is a perfect complement to running, since running works the legs and can over tax the knee joints.

To see the effects of swimming on weight loss


The main reason that swimming has been found to have a negative affect on weight loss is the post workout appetite it can often produce. Swimming in cold water can increase appetite as swimmers fuel the fire of the body temperature with food after stepping out of the pool. In contrast, running and cycling increase body temperature, which can in fact decrease appetite. Often swimmers end up replacing all the calories they just burned.

If swimming is your favorite form of exercise, the chances of you sticking to exercise are greater and that is what is most important. I think swimming would make a great addition to your workout routine, since you are already doing strength training and spin. Just make sure you get enough "impact" exercise, and walking will do this for your bone density.

See you in the pool!


Join The Conversation
magritoy magritoy 9 years
Hi! I was wondering if anyone knows about water aerobics classes for pregnant women? Or if anyone can direct me to someone who does, please? I'm from the Philippines and live in Makati City. Thanks a lot in advance!
lolliegirl237 lolliegirl237 9 years
actually, i don't remember being too hungry during swim season, but i did lose a lot of weight and i never paid attention to my diet (i.e. ate whatever i craved). it was great on my muscles and i actually got a good leg workout because we were always doing flipturns and pushing off the wall as well as doing 100 and 200 kicks-so i don't buy the lower body workout either. definitely had the best abs! chlorine was bad for my hair and skin though (showered RIGHT after!)
pebby01 pebby01 9 years
wow i always thought swimming was a really great cardio activity, because you do use your hands and feet to swim. i always felt really good after i swam.
Advah Advah 9 years
I love swimming so much. I've had an problem with one of my femurs since I was 6, and swimming is basically the only sport I can practive without having to worry about the repercussions on bones. It's great for your shoulders, joints, and it's relaxing. It's true it's not amazing for hair, so wear a swimming hat :) (or, soak your hair in olive oil, keep it for the night and wash your hair the next morning, that's the best trick I found when I was swimming every week).
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
i guess I better learn how!
Soniabonya Soniabonya 9 years
LOVE LOVE LOVE swimming. The swim workouts you posted before Fit definetly keep me going at the pool. I do a mile or more before my water aerobics class twice a week. I remember being hungry after swim practice, but I lost a lot of weight while on the swim team. I think it was at my lowest weight and I was at the fittest part of my life when on the team. I sure miss it :(
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
I've been a fitness swimmer for the last 20 years. I've swam from almost everyday down to three days a week. I agree with Fitsugar's comments. The only warning I have about swimming is the damage it does to hair. This is due to the heavily chlorinated water, and whatever chemicals that are added. Because of this, I've been sporting a short, graduated bob haircut for most of my life. I had to cut off the dried, lightened ends. Special cleansing shampoos and conditioners help, but they only SLOW DOWN the damage. They don't eliminate the damage. There's a difference. Also, for blonde hair, the chemicals turn the hair greenish in color. How much do you plan to swim? If you swim minimally, then it may not impact your hair. But if you plan to swim regularly every week, you hair may get damaged. Hope this helps.
luvthebosox luvthebosox 9 years
I swam in high school and I remember being starving for the first month after every practice. But after awhile, that wore off. Maybe if you do it consistently your body gets used to it?
telewyo telewyo 9 years
swimming is awesome! I burn a lot of calories and it does make me hungry but hungry for fruits and veggies! Just be aware of your after workout food choices (you should be anyway) donuts like the person above. Also, if you want to work your legs more then get a kickboard and do half of your workout with it. Finally, learn how to do flip turns at the walls to get super flat abs!
Arthur Arthur 9 years
According to my physician mother in law, one other thing that swimming has going for it: upper body endurance workout. By working the upper body, you improve the circulation in you upper body. Over time this will lead to a better circulatory system in your chest, shoulder and arms, which should reduce the risk of heart attack as we age. And of course my New Years Resolution is to get competent at swimming, so i gotta believe it ;)
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 9 years
Just make sure to drink PLENTY of water while swimming because you still sweat in the water and lose vital electrolytes and water!
LJDP LJDP 9 years
The pool at my Gym is pretty warm, actually. I have bad knees and was told it was a great exercise. Does the warm-ish water (around 70 degrees, I think) negate the hunger attack that follows swimming? I think it is best to do at night, because getting waterlogged makes me so sleepy. And I sleep like a baby!
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 9 years
I don't buy this. My friend got a rocking body when she swam while pregnant... omg that girl was a hottie! hahahaha She did it after the pregnancy and the weight dropped off... the whole appetite thing seems far fetched as well. SWIM GIRLS!
luckyEmmie luckyEmmie 9 years
oh my gosh, so that's why I didn't lose any weight when I was on the swim team in high school! I was so starving all the time from the swimming, that I gained back all the calories I burned. After Saturday morning practices, the team would go to Dunkin' Donuts, and there was this one girl, she couldn't have weighed more than 80 lbs, who would order half a dozen donuts and eat them ALL!!! Oh well, at least we were in good shape...
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I wish I could swim yr round...
behemoth_the_cat behemoth_the_cat 9 years
I've always thought that swimming was one of the best forms of excersise. It's very light on your joints and it's a great work-out in terms of calorie burning.
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