Is Swimming a Resistance Exercise?

Swimming is a low-impact exercise for the whole family.

Swimming is a low-impact exercise for the whole family.

If you are trying to maintain a peak level of physical fitness, you might have read that resistance training is an important part of an overall-fitness regimen. If you love swimming, you may be asking yourself if this is a form of resistance exercise. Although swimming is good for you, it is not a resistance exercise for a number of reasons.

Defining Resistance Exercise

Resistance training is, as the name implies, getting your muscles to contract against an external form of resistance, such as dumbbells, exercise bands, your own body weight, a block of cement, soup cans or any other external object. Resistance training is good for your overall level of fitness because it increases your strength, muscle tone, muscle mass and your endurance, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. There are three types of resistance training including Olympic lifting, powerlifting and weightlifting, but swimming is not included in the group of resistance exercises.

How it Works

If you are still confused as to why exerting yourself against a body of water does not constitute resistance training, you need to examine further how resistance training actually works. As harsh as it sounds, resistance training works because you actually tear your muscles while exerting against a weight. In your off-workout periods, your body repairs these tears, making itself stronger. Even though moving through water offers more resistance than moving through air, water does not exert sufficient force on your muscles to tear them, so it is not classified as a resistance exercise.

Benefits of Swimming

Although gliding through the water does not provide sufficient resistance to get you the muscles of a female bodybuilder, swimming allows you to tone your body without applying a harsh impact to your skeleton, which is typical of other aerobic exercises and resistance training moves. The resistance offered by swimming is 12 times as dense as air, according to the Discovery Fit & Health website. So jumping into the pool may be a good way to get your body used to adding some resistance without pumping iron.

Other Considerations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC recommends that you supplement aerobic exercise with muscle-strengthening activities twice or more every week. If you don't want to go to a gym and lift weights, you can sneak in resistance activities throughout your day by doing pushups and situps, engaging in hobbies such as gardening or taking a yoga class. Although the CDC indicates moderate exercise is safe for most women, you should check with your doctor first if you have any chronic health problems including heart disease, arthritis, diabetes or other symptoms that are worrying you.

 

About the Author

Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.

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