Have you taken up swimming as an exercise to help you to lose weight? If you are, you are not alone because most people think that swimming is effective way to tone muscles and lose weight. This is why the public swimming pools everywhere are always packed in the evenings and on weekends.
Before I disappoint you, I must first declare that I am not against swimming. On the contrary, I swim regularly for the sake of my cardiovascular health.
However, some research seem to suggest that swimming is not an effective way to lose weight and in fact, one can even gain weight with swimming. Getting more bewildering eh?
Swimming is considered by many as one of the best exercises to lose weight and to tone muscles because when you swim, most of your muscles are called into action and you are actually having a full body workout. Furthermore, swimming also has an aerobic effect and so the heart and lungs are getting their dose of exercise as well.
However, a research published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine demostrated that in the absence of a controlled diet, swimming has little or no effect on weight loss.
Professor Grant Gwinup conducted an experiment correlating swimming with weight loss and came up with surprising results.
a) Test subjects put in a cycling program lost 19 pounds in a 90 days study.
b) Those following a walking program lost 17 pounds in the same period.
c) Now, brace yourself for this! Subjects in the swimming program actually gained extra 5 pounds!
Did the findings shock you? I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I first came across the report.
Professor Gwinup then assumes that swimming in cold water stimulates the appetite to increase caloric consumption. Do you feel hungry after a swimming session? If you do, then professor could be right.
Professor Louise Burke, Head of Nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport pointed out that competitive swimmers typically have body fat levels that are higher than those of runners or cyclists who expend a similar amount of energy when they train.
Why is that so? This is because swimmers feel hungry after swimming and may simply replace all the calories they have burned with a large meal and a sugar laden drink after their swim.
On top of that, they may even consume more calories than they have used up.
“Some research suggests that this is due to the cool temperatures in which swimmers often train in and by contrast, runners and cyclists usually experience an increase in body temperature during their training sessions, which may help to suppress appetite.” Professor Burke said.
Professor Burke also noted that competitive swimmers are less active when not in training sessions. The swimmers are so tired from the hours of intensive training that they sleep, relax or avoid any active physical activities outside their training sessions. Deja vu? Do you feel tired and sleepy after a swim?
Now, let’s talk about toning muscles. Do note that most of the work your body does when swimming involves positive muscle actions and no negative action and we know all know that the negative phase, that is, when lowering the weights during weight training is very importantin building muscles.
So can your muscles develop properly when only the positive muscles are worked on? By the way, before you say that competitive swimmers have nice muscle tone, that is because they lift weights to maintain muscle balance as well as to gain strength for more powerful strokes.
Please, do not give up swimming if you enjoy the sport. Doing any exercise is better than not exercising at all. Just make sure that you don’t eat more or become more less active after your invigorating swim.
Chris Chew is a fitness personal trainer and author of “Burn Fat Build Muscles Fast”. Visit his sites at International Personal Trainer