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Swimming for Exercise

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Water makes for effective workouts

Swimming is a great way to cool off in the summer months, whether it’s in a lake, pool or pond. Yet it can also be a fun way to turn this limited-impact sport into a fat-burning, muscle-toning workout. Here are five exercise ideas (and five good reasons to put on your bathing suit this summer).

Focus on different strokes

This may seem like Swimming 101, but taking a casual, 20-minute swim while focusing on your form has enormous health benefits. Any stroke will help improve your cardiovascular activity and muscle tone, but you should alternate strokes for an overall workout. For example, focus on shoulder and upper body strength with freestyle one day. The next day, give your arms and legs a workout with the breast stroke or butterfly.

Splash around

Tap you inner child and get slap happy with friends and family. Stay in the shallow end so you can splash with your arms for sleeker shoulders, or engage your quadriceps and calves by using water resistance to “run” away from your swimming companions. For deeper water, hold onto another person’s arms or tube to make waves with your feet or water flippers to burn even more calories.

Kickboard washboard abs

Hang onto a kickboard and use sheer leg muscle to propel yourself through the water — and get closer to six-pack abdominal muscles. You may even stand up and move the kickboard from side to side to work your oblique muscles.

Change your pace

Try different workouts every time you take a dip. According to military.com, you can get equally effective cardio workouts by swimming five, 50-meter sprint intervals one day and then a moderate pace another, possibly combined with some out-of-water pushups for the less faint of heart.

Play water volleyball

Coordinate a friendly hour of this fun-filled game, which the average 150-pound person can use to burn around 200 calories. Better yet, all that hitting will strengthen your upper body while the running, diving and spiking will expand your lung capacity (and earn you bragging rights for the rest of the day).

Unlike exercising out of water, swimming offers a great alternative to use muscles you may not normally engage. It also gives you a healthy alternative to stay fit when you are nursing an injury. Just don’t let the zero-gravity resistance fool you and cause you to overdo it, because like all forms of exercise, you could subject yourself to muscle strain or injuries.

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