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Swimming involves the use of almost all of the muscles in your body.
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Few exercises can claim to be total-body workouts, but swimming is one method of getting in shape that can proudly wear this title. From the moment you dive into the pool to begin swimming laps, you're using every major muscle group in your body. In addition to working all your muscles, swimming is a low-impact exercise that burns calories quickly to help you build an athletic figure.
As you move through the water using a standard stroke such as the front crawl, breaststroke, backstroke or butterfly, you're using virtually all your muscles from head to toe. Upper-body muscles that you'll use while swimming include your pectorals, deltoids, biceps, triceps and wrist flexors. Lower-body muscles include your calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes. Swimming also requires the use of your core muscles.
Although you can strengthen your body in a nearly endless number of ways, swimming can help you build and tone muscles throughout your body. Having strong muscles doesn't just have cosmetic benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strong muscles help you control your weight, avoid chronic health conditions and build a stronger heart. Strength training is an integral piece of anyone's fitness routine, which should also include aerobic exercise.
In addition to its muscle-building properties, swimming is an aerobic exercise that can cause you to lose weight quickly. Harvard Health Publications notes few exercises create a faster calorie burn than swimming. The calories you'll burn, however, depend in part on the stroke you choose. The front crawl and butterfly burn calories the quickest, followed by the breaststroke and backstroke. A 30-minute swimming workout can translate into several hundred calories burned.
Whether you add swimming to your workout to build muscle or burn fat, this full-body activity can greatly improve your health in several ways. Swimming increases your flexibility, lessens your risk of disease, improves your endurance and even regulates your body's cholesterol levels. Swimming also has emotional well-being benefits. The repetitive nature of the activity can help clear your mind and, as you move through the water, your body releases endorphins to improve your mood.