Things to Do in a Pool to Lose Weight

Things to Do in a Pool to Lose Weight

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Try pressing your swim noodle into the water for a resistance exercise.

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When you want to lose weight, don't forget about your local swimming pool. Not only can it provide an aerobic workout that burns calories, but the resistance of moving through the water is also a form of strength training, which helps you build muscle. Since muscle helps you burn calories more efficiently, a water workout is a win-win. In order to lose one pound, you have to shave off 3,500 excess calories through diet and exercise. That means reducing the amount of food you eat and high-calorie drinks you consume, but it can also mean burning calories in the pool.

Time and Intensity

First: the basics of burning calories. Whatever exercise you choose to do in the pool, you'll burn more calories by upping the intensity and length of your workout. The more time you spend working out and the more intense you make your workout, the more calories you'll burn. This can be a delicate balance. Some people can swim at a rapid pace for 45 minutes without becoming overly fatigued; other people will be challenged by 15 minutes of slow swimming. Set a reasonable goal for your fitness level, and then try to add time and intensity to your pool workout after a week or two.

Swimming Laps

One of the most obvious ways to burn calories in the pool is to swim laps. Whether it's the backstroke, the crawl or breaststroke, moving your body through the water is a proven calorie-burner. According to the Mayo Clinic, a 160-pound person burns about 423 calories per hour swimming laps; a 200-pound person burns about 528 during that same hour. If you're not ready to swim for a full hour or you're a little intimidated by all that time in the deep end, use a pull buoy between your legs for extra flotation, hold onto a kickboard and swim a few laps with only your leg-power, or even try using a snorkel mask to help you maintain steady breathing.

Group Fitness

If you're using a public pool, there's a good chance that the facility offers some type of group fitness class -- and most don't involve swimming a single lap. Your facility might offer classes such as water aerobics, Aqua Zumba -- a form of water-based, Latin-inspired dance -- or even a class that has you walking in the pool's current channel. During these classes, instructors might have you walking against the current, lifting your arms and legs above and below the surface of the water, or using a swim noodle as a "weight" you move through the water. The group setting can be motivational, and the weight loss potential is significant. The Mayo Clinic calculates that a 160-pound person burns about 402 calories during an hour of water aerobics; a 200-pound person burns about 501. Even if you only go to one class, you might get ideas for exercises to replicate later, on your own time.

Water Walking and Other Exercises

Simply walking through the water is also a way to build muscle strength and burn calories. Add some variety by holding onto the side of the pool and "cycling" your legs for a few minutes. Continue standing by the side and do leg lifts, kicking each leg forward as high as you can, and then kicking each leg to the side, pressing the leg back to the standing position with force. Move out into the deep end and tread water, working toward large kicks with your legs to make the exercise more intense. Do one of these exercises for about 30 seconds, take a short rest, and then start another exercise. Simple exercises like these can burn about 11 calories per minute, advises trainer Greg Moe in a "Fitness" article.