Swimming: What It Is, Health Benefits, and Getting Started

Do I need to warm up before a swimming workout?

Warming up before a workout is always a good idea. Taking 5 to 10 minutes to warm up the muscles you plan to use before starting your workout can help loosen your joints and prime those muscles for exercise, Koleber says. Before swimming, perform a few sets of push-ups and planks on dry land, and then spend a few laps swimming at a slow, easy pace to warm up.

How many calories does swimming burn?

The number of calories you’ll burn when swimming varies depending on your age, sex, body weight, and the intensity and duration of the exercise. However, as mentioned above, a 150-pound person may burn 216 calories from 30 minutes of general swimming (not vigorous), according to Harvard Medical School. If that same person increases the intensity, the expected calorie burn can jump to 360 calories in 30 minutes.

How many laps is a good swimming workout?

When you’re first starting out, any number of laps you’re able to do is a good swimming workout. For those who need concrete numbers, however, four laps of any basic stroke is a good distance to start with, Slabaugh says. (For reference, standard-sized pools tend to be 25 yards long, according to US Masters Swimming.) From there, the number of laps you do will depend on your goals, intensity, fitness level, and how much time you have to exercise .

What muscles do you use for swimming?

Swimming is a full-body workout. It works the large muscles in your back (latissimus dorsi and trapezius), chest (pectoralis major), shoulders (deltoids), hips (glutes), legs (quadriceps and hamstrings), and midsection (abdominals), Buckingham says.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t try swimming?

Many groups of people, including beginners, kids, older adults, pregnant women, people with chronic conditions, and those with joint pain or injuries, can all potentially benefit from swimming. However, it’s a good idea to consult with your physician if you have any medical condition or injury that may make exercise — and swimming in particular — unsafe. In addition, Slabaugh recommends avoiding swimming if you’re recovering from surgery, have open wounds, or can’t complete the strokes.

What should I wear for a swimming workout?

A comfortable swimsuit and a pair of goggles may be all you need. However, some people may want to wear a swimming cap to protect their hair from damage from pool chemicals or salt water.

What gear do I need for swimming?

Aside from a swimsuit, goggles, and a swim cap (if you prefer to use one), most other swim gear is optional. However, if you’re swimming in a natural body of water, it’s a good idea to get a safety buoy to increase your visibility and give you something to hang onto if you get tired, Koleber says.

Optional gear included:

  • Fine These can be great for working the legs and adding propulsion to your swimming.
  • Kickboard Many indoor pools have these available for use. They can help you focus on building kick strength and keep you afloat in the pool.
  • Waterproof Headphones These let you listen to music while you swim.

Are there any common swimming injuries, and how can I avoid them?

While swimming is low-impact, the repetitive motions can still cause pain and injuries, if you’re not careful. The most common swimming-related issues include swimmer’s shoulder, lower back pain, breaststroke knee, and foot and ankle tendonitis, according to the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). The best way to avoid all of these injuries is to use proper swimming technique, build strength in the muscles that support your stroke, include a warm-up and cooldown in every workout, and progress your routine gradually, per the HSS.