If you’re looking to start a weight loss program, chances are you’ve already looked at a slew of different routines. However, those who are serious about losing weight often turn to an unexpected place… swimming. Because while swimming is often all about play, it can also be a tool to melt away stubborn pounds, and sculpt the muscles beneath.

For those who aren’t sure about making swimming a regular part of their weight loss routine, consider some of the benefits it offers.

Benefit #1: Low impact

If you are overweight, that can put a lot of stress on your body. This becomes doubly problematic when you’re trying to lose weight, because all those pounds you’re trying to shed put stress on your joints, your tendons, and your bones, which can make regular workouts a pain in more ways than one. As WebMD points out, though, swimming eases these burdens, and lets someone exercise at a fuller capacity without straining themselves. The deeper one is immersed in water, the less they weigh, and the less impact their routine will have on their body. A decreased impact with increased effort is a sure-fire recipe for weight loss.

Benefit #2: Swimming can work for anyone

Whether you’re a new mom looking for pregnancy exercises that don’t hurt, a couch potato trying to undo the effects of too many days on the sofa, or someone who’s just trying to get that last, stubborn inch of belly fat off, swimming will work for you. According to Fit Day, routines can be easily adjusted to make sure you’re working the areas of your body you need to, and at the intensity level you require. If you’re completely new, then any kind of swimming will be a step in the right direction. If you’re more experienced, though, you can use more structured laps, and different strokes, to slim and tone every part of you.

Benefit #3: Swimming is a Total-Body Workout

The more muscles you engage, the harder you work, and the more fat you burn. It’s why exercises like running tend to lead to lean, sculpted physiques. Swimming is the same, but as Weight Loss Resources points out, it also provides additional resistance to your movement. Because even as water supports your body, it makes it harder for you to move forward. You need to engage your full body when swimming, and this gets you far better results than if you’d just gone for a walk.

Benefit #4: Swimming shows results quickly

If you’re following a swimming routine, and you stay dedicated to it (typically requiring you to swim between three and four days a week for forty minutes or longer), you will see results from that routine in fairly short order. This is particularly true if you were largely sedentary before you started swimming, or if your previous routines didn’t engage as many muscles while you were following it. It’s for this reason that swimming is often used by athletes who want to cross train, making sure they aren’t missing a single part of their bodies.

Benefit #5: Swimming builds strength (and strength eats fat)

They say muscle weighs more than fat, but it’s important to remember that active muscles also consume a lot of energy. That’s why it’s important to note that water provides roughly 12 times the resistance that air does, so every movement in a pool is building your strength. And the stronger you become, the more rapidly your body will devour fat, and the leaner you’ll become. As long as you keep at it, your results will grow exponentially thanks to the specific conditions that come with working out against the inertia of water.

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