Monday, June 25, 2012

Why swimming can't help you lose weight...


I stumbled upon Lynn Sherr's book, Swim, while reading an issue of The Economist. I've started reading it and with every page, I've learnt something new. I always thought swimming is the best exercise and that it will help me put off weight. I've been swimming at least four to five times a week for the past six months. While I've certainly built some muscles and abs, it hasn't really helped me tip the weighing scale. I still weigh a healthy 57.5 kg, which is ideal for my height, but it's not 'thin'. In Swim, I learnt why:


"Alas, this otherwise ideal sport may not do much for our waistlines. While swimming can smooth out the figure and certainly burn fat, it does not directly promote weight loss. According to Dr Joel Stager, associate director of Indiana State University's Department of Kinesiology, that's because "losing weight is about efficiency — the amount of work done is divided by the metabolic cost of doing the work." The problem is that most people who need to lose weight are so out of shape, they can't swim far enought to make a difference. And the better swimmer you are, the less metabolic work you are doing. So as you become more efficient, if you're swimming to lose weight, you are defeating you purpose by getting better." Blame it, he says, on buoyancy, which, "reduces the energy expenditure associated with swimming." It's a dilemma, but not one that troubles Dr Stager. Weight, he points out, is not a good index, especially since muscle mass weighs more than fat." 

Indeed!

3 comments:

Shraddha Kamdar said...

OMG! Now I know why!

Anonymous said...
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Ramesh Narendrarai Desai said...

Yes, it is true. You weigh less in water and the effort you make is consequently less. As compared to walking,you would have to swim may be five times the distance for an equivalent weight loss.