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Take the Plunge

Swimming makes waves with runners

By Jeff Steele
On April 19, 2010

 Although running may be the most popular form of exercise around La Crosse, a commonly overlooked workout is swimming.  Swimming works your entire body, improving cardiovascular conditioning, muscle strength, endurance, posture and flexibility. Your cardiovascular system in particular benefits from swimming by improving your use of oxygen without overworking your heart.  Kicking workouts, water aerobics, pool running or swimming laps can all give you a great exercise session without the weight of your body putting unnecessary stress on the rest of your body. Also, unlike running, swimming doesn't put strain on your legs and can prevent injuries associated with putting weight on your knees and ankles. Lots of athletes choose to cross-train by warming up and cooling down from a run by taking a few refreshing laps in a pool.

     Physical benefits are not the only advantages to swimming. Swimming is a great stress reliever and allows you to relax with fairly low effort while staying in shape. Water also adds over 12 times more resistance than air, thereby building lean, flexible muscles.  

     Swimming burns calories at a rate of about 3 calories a mile per pound of bodyweight. If you weigh about 150 lbs. and it takes you 30 minutes to swim one mile, then you will be using about 900 calories in one hour. 

     As you get in shape you will be able to swim longer and faster, your resting heart rate and respiratory rate will be reduced, making blood flow to the heart and lungs more efficient. Simply put, some call swimming the perfect form of exercise. 

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