Swimming is one of the best all round conditioning exercises and it widely accepted as an exercise that comes with little risk of injury as there is no impact, such as while running.
Swimming will exercise almost every muscle in the body, as you propel yourself through the water by kicking with your legs and pushing with your arms and shoulders.
You can use swimming as a great substitute if you are carrying an injury from running such as an ankle problem as there is no impact.
To improve your fitness levels then incorporate swimming into your exercise plan but be aware that swimming is not the best exercise for fat loss.
When you run, your body temperature rises because your muscles are working harder and use more energy by releasing it as heat. Even after you stop exercising, the body will still burn calories at an increased rate as your body slowly cools down. As you are obviously in water while swimming, your body never increases in temperature to a level that it would if you were doing land-based exercises as the water has a cooling effect and your body therefore doesn’t have to work as hard to keep itself cool.
A good swimming workout is to incorporate a steady swim with some interval training.
For example, swim at a steady pace using the breast stroke for 30 minutes and try not to stop. After 30 minutes take a couple minutes rest before completing a pyramid swim using the front crawl method.
To complete a pyramid, swim 5 lengths of front crawl at a pace that will leave you feeling fatigued, then rest for 60 seconds and complete 4 lengths of the pool using front crawl as before. After another minutes rest, swim 3 lengths, then 2 and finally 1, with a 60 second rest between each swim.
The idea is that after each interval, you feel fatigued but as the numbers of lengths you swim reduce, you swim faster so on the last interval of just 1 length you are swimming at 100% effort.
This is a great workout that takes around 45 minutes and is more interesting than just swimming up and down a pool repeatedly.