Are you a swimmer? Yes, a swimmer and I am not referring to those people who appear to have gills hidden somewhere on their bodies.
If you are not, then most likely you also have a phobia for too much water around you.
It may also mean that the question ” can you lose weight through swimming?” had not occurred to you, and if it had you did not find the prospect very appealing.
Stick with me however and let’s see if we can find the answer to the question.
Maybe it will confirm your decision to keep away from any water above your knees or, it may help you to decide that there is greater benefit in changing your mind and getting in deeper.
The fear of drowning will definitely keep anyone away from a body of water. Or, even if you are brave enough to even venture into it, there is a point beyond which no one can get you to go without serious protestations.
My father was a great swimmer and could do different styles, in the see. He came from a very tiny island so the see was almost on their doorstep. Swimming was a natural part of their life.
As children, when ever we visited the beach, he would place us on his stomach and swim around, doing the backstroke or just paddle. The sad thing is that he never took the time to teach any one of us to swim.
When I was about 12, my Pathfinder leader taught me the basics but I still don’t consider myself a swimmer.
Life has taught me that the best time to learn many things – including swimming – is in childhood.
It does not mean that you cannot learn as an adult but it takes a bit longer. Children are basically fearless about most things and catch on very quickly.
So if you have never swum, you can learn to do that too. You first need to lose your fear of the water though, if you have any. A good instructor will help you achieve that.
In one place where I practiced my swimming, there was a smaller pool that those who were new began in and graduated to the larger pool as their confidence grew.
Do some investigation about public pools in your area. Most would have special times for different people/age groups so you don’t have to worry about what other people may think.
Even if they do though, you don’t need to worry about that. You have a goal to achieve in spite of them. Once you stick to it, one day soon they will be gaping at the progress you have made.
Still not sure? Then get a friend to go with you. That way you have someone to help motivate you when you feel like giving up.
How Swimming Helps
No matter the form of exercise you do, in order to lose weight you must burn calories. The amount you burn daily above that which you use for normal bodily function, will determine how quickly you get rid of those pounds.
What is a calorie? Great question.
It is a unit of heat energy and is defined as “the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water through 1 degree Celsius, equal to 1000 small calories and often used to measure the energy value of foods.
Small calories are defined as ” the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 degree Celsius.
Swimming may be the most complete exercise there is available to us. The great thing about it is that there is a bonus that comes with it.
What’s the bonus? Swimming is fun! You enjoy it and the water too! Once you lose any fear that you may have for the water that is.
In addition, the exercise you do – and it seldom feels like exercise – is low impact. So unless you overdo it, you will feel little or no after effects except the loss of the weight.
Low impact means that there is less stress on your joints when compared to say, jogging or even walking. The water takes care of that.
Then there is the resistance that the water provides as you swim. It provides that muscle toning that you need without you having to lift weights. Of course, if you want to go on and develop your muscles, then you can add weight training to your schedule.
Plus, swimming causes you to exercise all the muscles of your body while providing a complete cardio workout and aerobics too. Imagine yourself in the pool and just see all the muscles you are using as you swim along.
Let me just name a few of those major muscles for you so that you can picture what’s going on. At the front of your body:
- The Sternocleidomastoid; neck muscles that are activated as you turn your head from side to side.
- Deltoid; in the shoulder.
- Pectoralis major; in the chest.
- Coracobrachialis brachialis; in the upper arms.
- Brachioradialis; in the lower arms.
- Rectus abdominis; in the abdomen.
- Rectus femoris; in the thighs.
- Peroneus longus and Tibialis anterior; in the lower leg.
These are just a few of the major anterior muscles that you would be bringing into action when you swim. There are approximately 26 different sets of muscle at the front of the body.
Here are some of those at the back:
- The trapezius; shoulder.
- Deltoid; upper arms
- Triceps Brachii; upper arms
- Sasrospinalis; hips
- Gleuteus maximus; most of us know that one well. Some people have it well-developed, others have to work on it. The bottox.
- Semimembranosus; at the back of the thigh.
- Biceps femoris; close to the knee.
- Gastrocnemius; the calf muscle.
- Achilles tendon; we know that one too.
These are some of the major posterior muscles at the back of the body. All these come into action when we exercise and more so when swimming.
O did I tell you that swimmers burn more calories than runners? That’s because of the resistance of the water upon the body as they swim. That means that you can lose weight faster with a good swim routine.
And do you know that you continue to burn calories even after your swim is over? Yes you do. That’s another good reason to take up swimming to help you lose weight and then maintain your ideal healthy weight.
Always remember to check with your doctor before beginning any strenuous exercise routine, including swimming.
Studies have shown that swimming is very effective for older people who wants to make sure that they get adequate exercise. The low impact benefit really stands out here as well as the others named above and those that will follow.
It is always advisable to swim in supervised waters – pool, river, lake or sea – even if you have developed into an able swimmer. Make safety – yours and others – a top priority in your activity.
Organs affected by swimming
What about on the inside of our bodies? Immediately two major organs come to mind; the heart and the lungs.
We know that while we are at rest we seldom feel/know that our hearts are at work. As soon as you begin to exert yourself however, that muscle announces its presence.
Depending on your level of fitness, you may think that it is attempting to break through your rib cage and explode into the open. If that is your experience after a little exercise, you know that its either you are over doing the work out or you are really unfit.
The heart benefits from exercise, any type of exercise. Since it is a muscle, it is strengthened by exercise. This is good for you.
A stronger heart will pump blood further throughout your body with fewer contractions. Have you ever been exercising and after a time could feel the blood reaching your fingertips? That’s the effect of your heart at work.
A strong heart pumps more blood, further with each contraction. This means that your heart rate will be lower than the person who is not exercising. Even when you are at rest. Swimming helps strengthen your heart.
One of the things that a swimmer may feel the need of while in the water is oxygen. The lung supplies oxygen to the blood that is pumped by the heart to every cell in the body.
A swimmer’s heart also beats slower than say runners, as a result of the effects of the water cooling the body.
Lung capacity determines the amount of oxygen that is available to the body. Swimming also helps increase lung capacity as it causes you to inhale more deeply as you keep the body supplied with the needed oxygen.
Like the heart, your breathing will also become slower but deeper as your swimming routine intensifies.
Of course, this will come over time and not immediately. So if you can, begin to enjoy going to the pool. Like everything else, take it in steps and before you know it, you will be swimming 30 – 60 minutes each time you go there.
It is believed that even asthmatics benefit from swimming.
And then there is the skin.
If you have very sensitive skin, then you need to be careful that the chlorine in the water does not negatively affect you as you swim. Some persons experience a drying of the skin when initially beginning to visit the pool.
If this happens to you, then you need oil your skin before entering the pool.
Keep this in mind
Beginning to swim will cost you, initially. Unlike in the ocean or sea, there are rules for using a public pool. They are for your safety and that of all the others who use the pool. Keep this in mind.
So you will need a swim suit. The cost will vary according to your taste but cotton materials are not allowed in the pool.
You will also need a good pair of googles. It’s value will become clear as you use that chlorinated water. The chlorine in the water can leave you with blurred and sometimes painful vision for a time, so be careful.
A few years ago I had that unfortunate experience in a hotel’s pool. I spent the evening seeing every light with a rainbow colored halo around it. Everything else was hazy.
So go ahead, get those goggles.
And then there is the need for the swim caps to protect your hair from the effect of the chlorine on it as well.
If water gets into your ears easily, then you may also want to get ear plugs.
Though you are in the water, remember to keep hydrated. You may not feel the water loss to your body as when say you are walking, but it does happen. So walk with your water and re hydrate as needed.
But don’t lose sight of the goal. You are there to get rid of the pounds in what may turn out to be the easiest way possible. Even as you burn those calories keep in mind how you added the fat in the first place and do not repeat the recipe.
The Swimmer’s Diet
No, you don’t have to begin eating fish or continue to if you already are. You are trying to lose weight the fun way and at the same time, keep it off.
So just as swimming – or some other form of exercise – will have to become a part of your lifestyle so too must your diet.
If you are a competition swimmer, that there may be slight changes you need to make in your diet, For those swimming to lose pounds and then maintain a healthy weight all that’s needed is a normal healthy diet.
You have been introduced to another way of losing weight and then maintaining that ideal healthy weight for you. I know that for those who are fearful of much water this will take a lot, but it can be done.
Look at it this way. When you learn to swim you would have conquered a phobia in your life. That would be a positive for you cause it would help build your confidence.
Think of it, you start off with one confidence builder in your corner, getting to your ideal weight. Along the way you pick up others, like getting rid of your fear of water, knowing that you are eating healthy and getting rid of some of the things that got you unhealthy in the first place.
One day soon – according to how much you put into it – you will be able to slip into that lovely dress or that rightly fitting suit. You will step out knowing that your health is where its supposed to be and that you are the human specimen that God designed you to be.
And yes, for those of you for whom this would be important – heads will turn. Even if they have never seen you before. There’s something about the glow of health radiating from a person that shines out.
Step into that water guy/girl!
Please feel free to leave your thoughts, comments or questions below.