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Personal Aerobic Exercise Program

Swimming Aerobic Exercise

Swimming is an excellent choice for aerobic conditioning since it involves most of the body's major muscle groups. Swimming works your arms, shoulders, hips, abdominals, and legs as the motion of your body works against the resistance of the water. It is also easier on your joints and bones than jogging or walking since there is no pounding on your joints; therefore, you have a reduced risk of injury. However, for this same reason, walking or jogging would be a better choice if you have osteoporosis since they are weight-bearing exercise which improves bone strength. Swimming is a great exercise for people that have arthritis or other joint problems as well as those that are overweight or pregnant. Swimming is also a perfect way to burn some calories while enjoying a nice dip in the pool. You can burn between 600-800 calories per hour depending on your stroke.

Swimming Tips

  • The freestyle or crawl is the best stroke for cardiovascular benefit. Other strokes in order of aerobic benefit are backstroke, breaststroke, and sidestroke. It is a good idea to use a variety of strokes.
  • Reach out as far as possible during the freestyle and pull the whole way through the water so your hand brushes your thigh.
  • The fewer strokes the better. Elongate each stroke for maximum power.
  • Kick up and down from your hips instead of your knees. Do not kick too deeply or let your feet break the surface of the water. Think of causing the water to boil rather than splash.
  • Don't forget to breathe! Proper breathing is very important in swimming since it provides your body with the oxygen it needs. You should breathe every two-three strokes. If you wait too long you will tire more easily. To breathe, it is best to roll your body to the side and breathe once your mouth and nose are out of the water.

Swimming Gear

  • Wear a swimsuit not a bathing suit. You want a suit that fits well while swimming and doesn't creep into uncomfortable positions while swimming.
  • Get a pair of goggles that are $5-10. They are usually as good as the more expensive kind. Prescription goggles cost about $75. While shopping for goggles make sure you try them on in the store and get a pair that provides some suction around the eyes.
  • Get a swimming cap to keep your hair out of your face.
12 Week Beginner Swimming Program
Week Distance
Time Goal
(per week)
1 300 12 4
2 300 11 4
3 300 10 4
4 400 13 4
5 400 12 4
6 500 14 4
7 500 13 4
8 600 15 4
9 700 18 4
10 800 21 4
11 900 23 4
12 1000 24 4

12 Week Intermediate Swimming Program
Week Distance
Time Goal
(per week)
1 1000 23 4
2 1100 25 4
3 1100 24 5
4 1200 27 4
5 1200 26 4
6 1200 25 5
7 1300 28 4
8 1300 27 5
9 1400 30 5
10 1400 29 4
11 1500 32 4
12 1500 30 5

Walking Jogging Swimming
Cycling Cross Training in the Gym

Return to Introduction to Aerobic Program
Return to Introduction to Exercise

Not all exercises or diets are suitable for everyone. Before you begin this program, you should have permission from your doctor to participate in vigorous exercise and change of diet. If you feel discomfort or pain when you exercise, do not continue. The instructions and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. The creators, producers, participants and distributors of this site disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the exercise and advice provided here.

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