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Injured or not, the total-body benefits and calorie burn of swimming (about 716 calories an hour) make it well worth seeking out a pool! "The resistance that the water provides makes movements more challenging, enabling your muscles to work hard while simultaneously reducing the impact forces on your joints," Matthews says. "Plus, because this type of activity uses your entire body, you get a great bang for your buck—swimming improves your cardiorespiratory fitness while also strengthening everything from your arms and back to your core and legs."
Boost your burn: Improve your caloric output by alternating between different strokes such as breaststroke (which burns the same number of calories as swimming freestyle) and/or butterfly (which burns an extra 72 calories in 60 minutes, compared to freestyle or breaststroke). And ensure the safety and effectiveness of each stroke by focusing on your form—make sure all five fingers dive under the water together with your palm facing down, she says. "If your thumb is entering the water first, you're likely over rotating your shoulder, which can put you at risk for a shoulder strain."
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