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27 Sep 2006

Swimming and Fitness
Dear Doc

I have recently started swimming at the gym and I am really enjoying it. I did not go to gym for about a month as I was sick and I wanted to wait until I had fully recovered. My gym programme before consisted of mainly weights but also cardio. I would like to get back into doing weights but I'm would like to continue swimming.

Should I give swimming a break on the days I do weights? How many lengths must I swim to increase my fitness levels? Is swimming as beneficial as any other cardio exercise i.e. treadmill and cycling?
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Expert
FitnessDoc
fitnessdoc

01 Jan 0001

Hi Water Baby

If you have the time to do some swimming on those weight days, then by all means. Just don't overdo it, obviously, I reckon that you should probably see how you go after the weight training days - I imagine you will be very stiff and tired in the first phases of your weight training, and so then rather leave the swimming for a while. once you feel that you are on top of things in the weight training, then I think that some swimming will be good to do. I would swim before weight training, because I am assuming that your goal from training is to tone, not build muscle. In that case, doing the cardio first won't affect the weight training - it may even help it. Then, if you can do anything between 15 and 25 minutes of swimming, it will be fine.

As for swimming as a form of cardio, I think it's very good, difficult to compare to running and cycling though, because it's so different. The main difference is that you are not working against gravity, and so the buoyancy provided by the water makes the rate of energy use lower than it is during running and cycling. This means that on average, you burn fewer calories swimming than in running or cycling. The other side of the coin is that swimming has no load on the joints and so injury risk is a lot lower, which means that for many people it is the only form of exercise they can do enough of to see progress. Therefore, my advice is always that if you enjoy it, then you will do it regularly and that's the key.

Good luck
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