Exercise physiologist Alice Burron, MS, spokesperson for American Council on Exercise (ACE), touts water aerobics and swimming exercise as the ultimate workout for women. And she adds that swimming and weight loss go hand in hand.

“Water provides up to 20 times more resistance than air, which allows you to get a workout without getting injured,” the fitness expert explains.  Like any other exercise, the intensity at which you move, and therefore your heart rate determines exactly how effective at calorie burning your workout will be.  But to be sure, adding a water routine to your fitness regimen will turbo-charge your efforts to slim down and get in shape. Many being a program of swimming and weight loss soon follows.

Don’t feel comfortable doing water aerobics? Then just swim. A 150-pound woman swimming at a moderate pace for half an hour burns about 270 calories—about the same as a whole hour of brisk walking. Swimming also works both upper and lower body muscles.  So no matter what you choose, adding the element of water greatly increases the effectiveness of your workout.

There are also benefits if you have found yourself sidelined by an injury.

“Water is the perfect place to rehabilitate injuries by keeping impact low but effort high,” says Burron. “Water aerobics improves range of motion and flexibility.”

Here are some effective water-aerobic moves that Burron loves. You can find even more ideas for swimming exercise here.

1. Around the World

This exercise targets your core, including the abdominals, obliques and back muscles, while providing an aerobic challenge. You are essentially doing crunches “around the world.”

Exercise: Start by treading water with your body in an upright position and your arms moving out to the sides to keep your head above the water. Stretch your legs straight forward then bring knees to chest. Extend your legs out to side (body is now upright and not face up), then bring legs back into a tuck (knees to chest position). Extend your legs straight behind you then tuck legs to chest. Extend legs straight out to the other side (you are again upright), then tuck knees in. Stretch legs straight in front again. Repeat “around the world” for 10 to 20 repetitions.

2. Cross Country

Work your arms and legs and pump up your heart rate with this move.

Exercise: Starting with your feet on the bottom of the pool and water up to your shoulders, alternate arms and legs as if cross country skiing (right arm out and left leg out then switch). Reach and extend arms far behind body and in front of body for maximum workout. Perform for up to 10 minutes.

3. Tucks

You’ll use a pool noodle for this abdominal and aerobic exercise.

Exercise: Place noodle behind upper back, bringing the ends in front of you, and hold on towards the ends of the noodle with your hands, keeping your head and shoulders above the water. Start with your legs out straight and toes pointed, then tuck knees to chest. Hold 2 seconds and extend legs straight. Repeat for 2 to 5 minutes or until fatigued.

Try tucks without the noodle for maximum workout. For variety, turn belly-side down, hanging on to the pool wall, and tuck knees to chest.

As with any workout, cool down afterwards with a few leisurely laps around the pool. Start swimming and weight loss may soon be yours.

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