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                    Swimming Tones Your Muscles




Swimming as an exercise tones your muscles. It improves the back-support muscles and strengthens the chest and shoulders.

These areas are undergoing development from the overuse of the musclesswimming is a good message for your muscles through stretching backward, through the motion in the recovery portion of the crawl and butterfly strokes. All of these movements are also good for loosening up the shoulders. So building our muscles and making them stronger and more enduring requires the continuous use of more of your body’s major muscle groups than do most other forms of exercise.

By swimming, we use the muscles of both the upper and lower body. The various strokes require contractions of muscles of the arms, shoulders, chest, and upper back. Swimming provides a stimulus for muscle growth that is superior to most land activities of an endurance nature. According to authors Maglischo and Brennan, this is "because it is 1,000 times more dense than air, water offers greater resistance to movement" (9).

Working out in the water is also a great way to come back from a sports injury, recover from surgery, or keep your fitness up while you are waiting to get back to your usual weight-bearing sport, like running.

Indeed, swimming has a very important advantage to sports related injuries. As research indicates, swimmers are subject to fewer injuries than participants in practically any other sport are. Many runners, for example, are being forced to abandon their sports because their knees and hip joints can’t tolerate the constant pounding. Joint and muscle injuries are less prominent among swimmers because the water supports their bodies, thus alleviating the punishing and jarring effects of weight bearing. People swim because they’re too weak to run on dry land; after swimming for a while, they like it so much because they see great results. We are using all of our muscles in the water, so we are developing more solid muscle.

The swimming learning curve is steeper than running, cycling or stair climbing, but it’s worth the effort it takes to become proficient. Dr. Lewis G. Maharam, who practices sports medicine in New York City, says:

Swimming uses all of the major muscle groups; it’s aerobic, it’s low impact and, if done correctly, it’s probably the best exercise. Swimmers can also work their legs and trunk without having to strain their joints, a boon for the elderly, the overweight, or those with arthritis or lower-back pain. (Ritter 76)


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Web Revised Friday, May 14, 1999
by Iva Haddad
for CIS 212, Cuyamaca College