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    5 Types Of Swimming Strokes And Their Health Benefits

    Swimming is one of the most rewarding exercise-cum-leisure activities. An alternative for the gym, spending some time in the pool can benefit you tremendously. Irrespective of age or skill, swimming offers numerous health benefits. Studies have revealed that swimming is one of the most effective cures for stress as well as muscle tension. It involves the movement of your whole body and contains multiple forms of the workout [1] .

    Swimming Strokes

    Swimming for one hour can burn almost 500 calories, due to the fact that water density is 800 times more than air density. This requires your muscles to work extra, burning those calories. Regular swimming can help maintain your overall mental and physical health [2]

    Benefits Of Swimming

    Burning as many calories as that of running, swimming helps you lose some weight without having any side effects on your joints and bones. Swimming is extremely beneficial for your health as it is an effective workout for your whole body, helps in weight loss, improves bone strength and muscles, supports your mental health, and helps you sleep better [3] .

    Apart from these, the exercise is beneficial for your cardiovascular health, ideal for arthritic patients, can be beneficial for individuals suffering from asthma and is advisable for pregnant women. Swimming can help children with cerebral palsy as it improves their motor functions. Improving your flexibility and body coordination, swimming can lower the triglyceride levels, especially in the elderly. Studies have asserted that swimming can increase neurogenesis as well [4] .

    Now that you are provided with a glimpse into the overall benefits swimming can have on your mental and physical health, let us take a look into the benefits offered by the specific swimming stroke types.

    Also read: 10 Brilliant Benefits Of Swimming You Should Know

    Types Of Swimming Strokes And Their Benefits

    From benefiting your muscle strength to your cardiovascular health, swimming can help improve your health in various manners. Here, we will focus on five different types of swimming strokes and the specific health benefit it possesses. The swimming strokes that will be explored in the current article are freestyle stroke, butterfly stroke, backstroke, breaststroke and sidestroke [5] .

    1. Freestyle stroke

    Swimming Strokes

    How to: The most common type of swimming strokes, the freestyle stroke requires you to keep your body straight. Your breaths have to be timed in line to your strokes, tilting your head sideways in order to breathe at fixed intervals. Then, you need to kick hard with your feet and alternatively, your arms too - bringing one hand into the water as the other hand rises out on the other side [6] .

    Benefits: Also called as the front crawl, freestyle stroke is considered as the fastest and most efficient style of swimming. It gives your whole body a workout due to the hands and legs movement it requires. The style utilises both your hands and legs and the resistance from the water works your muscle well. It makes use of your core, arms, neck, shoulders, chest, upper back, and legs. Hence, it can be asserted that crawl stroke help tones your back muscles and makes your joints stronger - by giving you a full-body workout and tone up [7] .

    If you weigh between 55-60 kg, you are likely to burn 330 calories. And, if you weigh between 65-70 kg, you can burn 409 calories when you do the stroke for half an hour.

    2. Butterfly stroke

    Swimming Strokes

    How to: One of the challenging strokes, the butterfly stroke is done by swimming on your chest with both arms moving symmetrically. That is, you need to raise both your arms above your head simultaneously and then, push down into the water and then propel your body forward using your hands. Your legs will be moving in a dolphin kick motion, which is your legs will be straight and held together as you kick down with them [8] .

    Benefits: The butterfly stroke requires you to use your core. By using your abdominal strength, you will need to stabilise your body; so as to gain the rhythmic motion. As your upper body is also involved, the stroke helps in toning up your arms, chest, stomach, and back muscles. As this requires the movement of your limbs and torso, the stroke can improve your posture and flexibility. In other words, butterfly stroke help strengthen your core and upper body [9] .

    Doing the butterfly stroke for half an hour can help burn 330 calories if you weigh between 55-60 kg. 409 calories for a 65-70 kg person and 488 calories for an 80-85 kg person [9] .

    3. Backstroke

    Swimming Strokes

    How to: Similar to the crawl stroke, the backstroke requires you to use your hands and feet. The only difference is that you lie on your back and float; instead of face down in the water. While beginning the stroke, only your lungs should be at the surface and everything should be below the water level. Keep your body perfectly horizontal as possible while you swim and kick with your legs while alternately raising one arm at a time. Bring your hands back into the water in a vertical arc as it will allow the water to be pulled down to your body; allowing you to propel forward [10] .

    Benefits: This stroke helps in lengthening your spine, which in turn will make you look taller and maintaining proper posture. It also helps in toning the muscles on your shoulders, legs, arms, buttocks, and stomach. As the backstroke requires the movement of your hips, this type of stroke is suitable for people sits for long hours at work or home. The backstroke helps in burning high amounts of calorie [7] .

    Doing the stroke for half an hour burns 240 calories if you weigh around 55-60 kg and 355 calories for a person who weighs 80-85 kg.

    4. Breaststroke

    Swimming Strokes

    How to: To do the breaststroke, you need to move your legs in a way similar to that of a frog kick where your knees will be bending and you kick out below in the water. Starting at the breast level, your arms will move in one stroke and pushes the water away. This pushing causes your head to propel out of the water, allowing you breathing time. Breaststroke does not cause you any lower back and spine strain [11] .

    Benefits: As the stroke style requires you to use your legs more than your arms, it helps in improving the leg muscles. Breaststroke helps in bettering the functioning of your leg muscles and tones your back muscle. It also does not cause any pain to your shoulder, unlike the other stroke types. The stroke is beneficial for your chest muscles and tone up your upper back and triceps [12] , [13] .

    Doing a breaststroke for half an hour can burn off 300 to 444 calories; depending on your weight.

    5. Sidestroke

    Swimming Strokes

    How to: You are required to swim on one side in a lying down (on your sides) position. The hands will be used as oars, with the right staying almost at rest while the left-hand move and vice-versa. Your legs will be moving in opposite directions with legs bent, and straighten as they come together. In order to get fast movement of legs, open the legs wide to provide more thrust [14] .

    Benefits: The sidestroke benefits your body as it allows for increased endurance. It does not tire your muscles out as it is done with minimal exertion. It does not allow excessive pressure over your shoulders, knees, and the lower back. It helps improve your breathing and muscle strength and endurance [15] .

    Doing a side stroke for half hour will burn off 236 calories if your weigh 55-60 kg, 280 calories if you weigh 70-75 kg, 327 calories if you weigh 80-85 kg, and 372 calories if you weigh 90-95 kg.

    Skin Care Tips For Swimmers | Boldsky

    On A Final Note...

    Mix between the different stroke styles, so as to get a full body workout and to avoid getting bored with the fun exercise method. Swimming along with a healthy lifestyle that includes a proper and balanced diet is the ultimate answer for better health. Now that you are aware of the excellent benefits offered by the different swimming strokes, go ahead and find yourself a pool. It is going to be doubly beneficial for you, considering the scorching heat outside!

    View Article References
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    2. [2] Berger, B. G., & Owen, D. R. (1988). Stress reduction and mood enhancement in four exercise modes: Swimming, body conditioning, hatha yoga, and fencing.Research quarterly for exercise and sport,59(2), 148-159.
    3. [3] Bernard, A. (2010). Asthma and swimming: weighing the benefits and the risks.Jornal de pediatria,86(5), 350-351.
    4. [4] Matsumoto, I., Araki, H., Tsuda, K., Odajima, H., Nishima, S., Higaki, Y., ... & Shindo, M. (1999). Effects of swimming training on aerobic capacity and exercise induced bronchoconstriction in children with bronchial asthma.Thorax,54(3), 196-201.
    5. [5] Declerck, M., Feys, H., & Daly, D. (2013). BENEFITS OF SWIMMING FOR CHILDREN WITH CEREBRAL PALSY: A PILOT STUDY.Serbian Journal of Sports Sciences,7(2).
    6. [6] Evans, M. P., & Cazalet, P. M. (1997).U.S. Patent No. 5,643,027. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
    7. [7] Rubin, R. T., & Rahe, R. H. (2010). Effects of aging in masters swimmers: 40-year review and suggestions for optimal health benefits.Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine,1, 39.
    8. [8] Martini, R., Rymal, A., & Ste-Marie, D. M. (2011). Investigating self-as-a-model techniques and underlying cognitive processes in adults learning the butterfly swim stroke.International Journal of Sports Science and Engineering,5(4), 242-256.
    9. [9] Barbosa, T. M., Fernandes, R. J., Morouco, P., & Vilas-Boas, J. P. (2008). Predicting the intra-cyclic variation of the velocity of the centre of mass from segmental velocities in butterfly stroke: A pilot study.Journal of sports science & medicine,7(2), 201.
    10. [10] Veiga, S., Roig, A., & Gómez-Ruano, M. A. (2016). Do faster swimmers spend longer underwater than slower swimmers at World Championships?.European journal of sport science,16(8), 919-926.
    11. [11] Schoofs, M. J. (1985).U.S. Patent No. 4,521,220. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
    12. [12] Seifert, L., Leblanc, H., Chollet, D., Sanders, R., & Persyn, U. (2011). Breaststroke kinematics.World Book of Swimming: From Science to Performance, 135-151.
    13. [13] Rodeo, S. (1984). Sports Performance Series: Swimming the breaststroke–A kinesiological analysis and considerations for strength training.Strength & Conditioning Journal,6(4), 4-9.
    14. [14] Thomas, D. G. (2005).Swimming: steps to success(Vol. 1). Human Kinetics Publishers.
    15. [15] Thomas, D. G. (1990).Advanced Swimming: steps to success. Human Kinetics 1.

    Read more about: swimming benefits calories
    Story first published: Wednesday, March 27, 2019, 16:00 [IST]
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