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Published on August 5th, 2016 | by Neharika Sabharwal

Benefits of Swimming

No other workout burns calories, boosts metabolism, and firms every muscle in your body better than a swim. 

Ever felt a longing for Halle Berry’s flat abs (ala James Bond’s Die Another Day)? Bikini bodies may seem like the ‘privileged members club’ for movie starlets, but the fact is, us regular non-gymming women too have a shot at getting that hot bod by simply hitting the water for an hour a day.

Why Water Works

The benefits of swimming are worth the effort it takes to get to the swimming pool, get into your swimsuit, and dive. It’s a perfect storm of calorie burning and muscle toning.

  • A swim burns around 500 calories an hour which is way more than what you’d burn if you ran, jogged or cycled around. When you swim, the water keeps your body cool so you burn calories only while you are doing your laps, unlike other exercises which produce intense heat and continue to burn calories even after you have stopped.
  • Water is nearly 800 times denser than air, so each kick, push, and pull is like a mini resistance workout for your entire body. Swimming helps you strengthen your core focusing on your hips, arms, shoulders, and glutes. It also improves posture, muscle strength, flexibility and endurance. A good water workout can build lean muscle, which ignites metabolism, burning more calories even once you’ve showered and dried off.
  • Ironically, while swimming makes you lean and mean, it’s also kind to your body. Water basically neutralises gravity, so you become virtually weightless in it. This weightlessness eliminates the potential risk of back, knee and other muscular injuries that are common in high impact land activities. Water offers both buoyancy and resistance, so swimming is actually like doing two forms of exercise at once.
  • Swimming is also a great way to treat acne because the salt in the water has the property of reducing inflammation and absorbing oil. A good few laps in the water will also open your pores and removes toxins and dead skin cells which cause irritation and itchiness.

Look before you leap

Swimming is a healthy activity that can be continued for a lifetime but it comes at a price of ruining our hair and skin. The primary enemy? Chlorine, a gaseous greenish-yellow element used for its disinfecting power. Prolonged exposure to chlorine can cause irritation of the skin and scalp. It can also destroy the much-needed proteins in our bodies causing some dryness to our skin and hair. Thankfully there are several ways to protect ourselves…

  • Always apply waterproof sunscreen prior to entering swimming pools. Look for products that are sweat free, oil-free and offer all-day skin care protection.
  • Protect your hair by applying a thin layer of oil before swimming and don’t forget to wear a swimmer’s cap.
  • You can also use shampoo and conditioners specially formulated for “swimmers hair”. A quick home remedy is to rinse hair with lemon juice or vinegar after swimming.
  • Create your own pack using egg yolk, honey or mayonnaise. Massage a few tablespoons of this into your scalp and then wrap your head in a warm towel and wait about 10-15 minutes before shampooing. It will wash off the chlorine.
  • Shower as soon as you can after getting out of the swimming pool and pat yourself dry with a towel instead of rubbing to help your skin maintain more of its moisture.
  • Use a body wash with petrolatum or glycerin. These help your skin to moisturise and rehydrate while you’re in the shower. While your skin is still moist, apply a lotion that contains alpha hydroxyl, lactic or glycolic acids which penetrate deeply and nourish the skin.

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