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Be Like Katie Ledecky: Why Swimming is the Best Way to Work Out

By HERWriter
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Katie Ledecky Via Wikipedia

Unfortunately for us, the Rio 2016 Olympics ended last month. But don’t worry. With a pool and swimsuit, we can pretend we’re Katie Ledecky crushing her competitors in the 800m freestyle.

No, Michael Phelps won’t show us how to stack our medals. But swimming is a great workout, so for those that don’t hold GOAT status, maybe having a healthy body is just enough.

Tired of all the time it takes at the gym to do cardio and then strength exercises for your arms, back, legs and core? Well, that’s why swimming is the best. Whether doing breaststroke or backstroke, you’ll use each area of the body. The legs are used to kick, the core for balance, arms for the stroke, and the head and spine twist during breaths.

According to Bucknell University, swimming builds endurance, increases muscular flexibility, balance and strength, rehabilitates muscle and increases blood circulation.

swimmer buttferfly

For those that don’t enjoy exercises like running, swimming is the perfect alternative. First of all, you’re in a pool, so you won’t overheat. Also, there is less impact on your joints. In water up to your chest, the body has to hold only about 25 to 35 percent of your weight, which limits the wear and tear you might get from traditional forms of cardio.

And if you have asthma, the pool is also the place to be. A study published in the scholarly journal Respirology showed long-lasting improvements in symptom severity for kids with asthma that did a 6-week swim program.

swimmer breathing
Todd Quakenbush/Unsplash

While the bright lights and loud music of a gym can be overwhelming, swimming has actually proven to decrease stress. An article on HowStuffWorks reported that the continuous stretching and relaxing of muscles, combined with deep rhythmic breathing, leads to a relaxation response.

The article also noted that this breathing and the splashing of water parallels a meditative exercise. And, like all forms of exercise, swimming releases endorphins.

legally blonde

We may not all be like Michael Phelps and be able to burn so many calories that we can consume a pound of pasta, two sandwiches and 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks . Still, swimming is quite the energy burner.

How many calories a person burns depends on body type, weight and the type of exercise. However, with 10 minutes of freestyle swimming you can burn approximately 100 calories. Want more of a challenge? You can burn 150 calories in 10 minutes doing the butterfly stroke.

michael phelps
Marco Pakoeningrat/Flickr

So go find a pool, an ocean or a lake. You can be like a mermaid, Katie or Michael. Whatever your motivation and wherever you decide to go for a swim, your body will thank you for choosing such an efficient mode of exercise.

Reviewed September 6, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
Read more in Being HER

1) Swimming Information. Bucknell Univeristy. Retrieved August 30, 2016. 

2) 10 Health Benefits of Swimming. Health. Retrieved August 30, 2016.

3) Benefits of Swimming: 10 Reasons Every Woman Should Get in the Water. Fitness. Retrieved August 30, 2016.

4) The Michael Phelps Diet: Don’t Try It at Home. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 30, 2016.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.