Swimming for Obese Women

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Swimming provides an excellent exercise option for obese women who need physical activity but find land-based workouts uncomfortable and exhausting. Aquatics facilities usually offer some lap swimming time each day so that you can work out without dodging little children playing in the water. Indoor pools let you carry on your workout routine even during the colder months.


Basics

Body Mass Index is a number health care professionals use to determine your healthy weight. You are obese when your body mass index, or BMI is 30 or over, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, if you are 5 feet 5 inches tall and you weigh 180 lbs. your BMI is 30. At that weight or above, BMI tables list you as obese. The National Heart and Lung Institute has a comprehensive BMI table featured on its website.

Importance of Swimming

Aerobic exercise is important for obese people and swimming in particular reduces your risk for obesity-related diseases, without increasing your risk for injury. You lower your blood pressure when you do aerobic exercise like swimming, which in turn helps lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, notes MayoClinic.com. Obese people suffer from breathing difficulties and swimming builds up lung fitness and efficiency. Regular swimming exercise helps with weight control and loss, thereby reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes.

Benefits

Having fat tissue actually puts you at an advantage over very lean swimmers. Fat makes you more buoyant in the water so you use less energy just staying on the surface. Women in particular have more fat tissue in their legs and swim longer distances than men without having to kick hard. Because you don’t struggle with gravity, you swim longer and burn more calories. Water also keeps you cool and comfortable instead of overheating while exercising on land. Just being under water helps your lower limbs reduce swelling or edema due to the water’s hydrostatic pressure on them, according to Joanne M. Koury, author of “Aquatic Therapy Programming: Guidelines for Orthopedic Rehabilitation.”

Calories and Swimming

Swimming is a full-body aerobic exercise and it burns many calories. You burn 763 calories swimming for one hour if you weigh 240 lbs. You burn more calories if you weigh more, which is a benefit for heavier swimmers. Swimming increases your appetite, so you need to eat a healthy diet but avoid fats and sugary processed foods or you will not lose weight.

Considerations

Always check with your doctor before starting on a new exercise plan, especially if you are obese. Check your blood pressure and for any signs of other conditions, like diabetes, that could impact your health in the pool. Start slow, as swimming is an intense activity that takes time to master.

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