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Is Swimming An Aerobic Exercise?

We know swimming is great for your health and fitness. But did you know it can also be an excellent aerobic exercise? But are all types of swimming aerobic? Let's find out. 


What is an aerobic exercise?


An aerobic exercise is one that gets your heart rate up and keeps it there for a long time. This prolong type of activity keeps the body in constant need for energy. This means your body will burn more calories than it would if you were doing shorter activities. The key to understanding the difference between aerobic and anaerobic activity is the use of oxygen. Aerobic activity uses oxygen to produce energy, while anaerobic activity does not. 


When is swimming an aerobic exercise?


Just like land-based activities, swimming too can be an aerobic or non-aerobic activity. That depends on how long you swim, how fast you swim, and how hard you swim. Short distance swimmers perform faster and shorter sets of strokes. While this type of short bursts is very beneficial for muscular strength, it is not an aerobic workout and does not result in weight loss. For example, a 50m swimmer who is trying to break a personal best record would breathe once or even not breathe at all for the entire lap length. That is because muscular contraction in anaerobic activities happens without the use of oxygen.​Whereas an aerobic activity functions by the use of oxygen. Long distance swimmers will perform slower and longer sets of strokes, and will breathe constantly throughout the entire set. This is because they are using oxygen to fuel their body’s muscles. This type of long distance swimming is aerobic in nature. It’s the type of activity that will get your heart rate up and help you burn more calories. Swimming distance and breathing alone do not decide if swimming is aerobic or not. You also need to take into consideration the pace you swim at. 




​In conclusion, swimming isn’t always aerobic exercise, but it certainly can be. Any type of swimming that is done with regular breathing and that keeps your heart rate up for a longer period of time, is aerobic activity. 



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