8 Reasons to Start Swimming

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Yes, the treadmill is fun and so are those dumbbells, but it can be easy to get stuck in a workout rut. If you're looking for a total-body routine that burns a ton of calories (and doesn't involve having to brave the frigid cold in any way), give swimming a try. From toning your core to speeding up your metabolism, here are eight reasons why it'll be your new go-to form of exercise—all year long.

1. It's a total-body workout. Swimming tackles everything from sculpting your back to toning your arms—all without having to pick up a weight. Rather than needing a plan to work specific muscles, all four strokes work to strengthen your entire body.

2. It's joint-friendly. If you're recovering from an injury and are eager to build strength, then look into starting a swimming routine to stay fit. If running is your passion, then swimming is a great way to work out on recovery days, granting knees a rest from the pavement.

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3. It doesn't require fancy equipment. You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars to swim. All you need is a swimsuit, cap, and goggles. Even if you do decide to add more equipment (e.g. a kickboard), they are rather inexpensive, and chances are your local pool has a few handy.

4. It's a great way to burn calories. Those rumors about swimmers and calorie intake aren't false: An hour of moderate swimming can burn around 500 calories. This revs up your metabolism, continuing the burn well after you've stepped off the deck.

5. There are several variations. The workouts are endless when it comes to the pool. Beyond all four strokes, you can kick, pull, or even use the wall for pushups. Grab a friend and try this interval workout.

6. It's optimal for cross-training. Avoid an elliptical or gym class burnout by trading your normal workout for the pool. A swim session will actually improve overall performance at the gym (and vice versa). And when you're training for a marathon or any other competition, jumping in the pool can offer you an extra edge over your competitors.

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7. It maximizes your cardio. Swimming is the ultimate aerobic activity. There is more breath control compared to running, thus an increased demand for oxygen, causing your muscles to work harder. Because of this, you can get more bang for you buck in a short amount of time.

8. It's refreshing. C'mon—jumping into a pool is fun, and you certainly don't need to be a professional to reap the benefits and enjoy yourself. If anything, you'll walk away with a nice endorphin kick.

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