If slipping into a swimming suit is not going to give you a heart attack, go ahead and jump right in. Be ready for a real workout -- If you think you're going to be floating or dipping your toes, think again. To lose weight, you'll have to work hard.
Exercise just as hard in the water as you would on land. None of that splashing around and playing it easy just because the water feels good. A study published in the "Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness" showed that women who swam four times a week, 40 minutes each time, at 70 percent of their maximum heart rate, lost the same amount of weight to those who exercised on land under the same conditions.
Alternate between breaststroke, backstroke and sidestroke swimming to make sure you engage more muscles. This will ensure your heart rate stays up so you burn more calories. Women in the study used all three techniques, so it makes sense to copy them if you want to get the same results.
Increase the length of your workout every 12 weeks. Swimming is one workout where you actually improve your efficiency significantly in just three months. This means your body gets used to the workout and becomes more efficient at using your muscles -- which means you burn fewer calories. If you want to keep losing weight, increase your 40-minute workout to 60 minutes, or swim more days -- five days instead of four.
Use your legs a lot. Don't rely only on the strength of your arms to move you forward. By using your legs, you're using more muscles and burning more calories. Freestyle is a good choice in this case, as it requires kicking your legs continuously -- so kick away.
- A basic way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to deduct your age from 220. If you're 35, you're maximum heart rate is 185. To burn fat more effectively, you should be working at about 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, or 130 beats per minute. Get yourself a cute heart rate monitor from any sports store, and you're set.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.