Looking for a workout you can do year round that will keep you sleek and slim? Then dust off your bathers. Swimming is a full-body workout that increases fitness and lung capacity quickly and tones brilliantly. Swim Smooth head coach Paul Newsome, who coaches at the Claremont Aquatic Centre, says swimming is a great all-rounder — it engages the whole body during a workout but with little risk.

“Given that the water takes the weight off your body, it puts significantly less stress and strain on the joints and tendons than, say, running, ” Mr Newsome says.

He says many of his swimmers do the sport for recreation, often never racing but simply swimming two to three times a week to stay in shape and keep slim.

“It’s a great, fun environment in which to do that, ” he says. “Most recreational swimmers will do the bulk of their swimming at an intensity of about 70 to 75 per cent, often without realising it. It’s that steady pace which is enjoyable but also just enough to give you the sensation of having done a workout.”

Mr Newsome says that, coincidentally, that same intensity is fantastic for fat-burning and toning up. Swim coaches estimate a 30-minute swim can burn 1200 kilojoules.

Swimming groups also offer swimmers the option of upping the ante to burn more calories and really get the heart racing and blood pumping. Claremont Masters Swimming Club coach Elena Nesci, an adult swimming teacher and coach at Challenge Stadium Swim School, says that, as with any physical activity, the harder you work, the more you will benefit.

“The mistake most swimmers make is that they hop in the pool and swim 20 laps at the same speed and then hop out, ” she says. “They might do this three to four times a week, maybe even more and while that will still be of huge benefit to their general health and fitness, all swimmers will find a much more rapid development of speed, endurance and then weight loss if they focus on the way they swim their 20 laps.

“Swimming with a group such as a Masters Club will also help you push yourself a little harder than you would on your own and you will notice the results happen much faster.”

Ms Nesci says the key to using swimming as part of a weight-loss regime is to incorporate some speed work in short sharp bursts and lots of kicking either with or without fins. “Mixing up your speed and interval length with some rest periods in-between the sets will deliver a much better result than just plodding up and down the pool.”

Ms Nesci says as a coach, teacher and avid swimmer herself, she believes the biggest and most obvious benefits of swimming are largely in improved aerobic fitness and mental wellbeing.

“The benefits are generally long-term rather than quick fix and in my opinion that is actually of more value to individuals, ” she says.

© The West Australian

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