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Swimming is a good form of exercise. Because the density of the human body is approximately similar to that of water, the body is supported by the water and less stress is therefore placed on joints and bones. Furthermore, the resistance against movement depends heavily on the speed of the movement, allowing the fine tuning of the exercise according to one's ability. Therefore, swimming is frequently used as an exercise in rehabilitation after injuries, or for the disabled.
Resistance swimming is one form of swimming exercise. It is done either for training purposes, to hold the swimmer in place for stroke analysis, or to enable one to swim in a confined space for either athletic or therapeutic reasons. Resistance swimming can be done either against a stream of water set in motion by a (usually) self-contained mechanical device (often termed a swimming machine) or by holding the swimmer stationary by means of elastic attachments.
Swimming is an aerobic exercise due to the relatively long exercise time, requiring a constant oxygen supply to the muscles, except for short sprints where the muscles work anaerobically. As with most aerobic exercise it is believed to reduce the harmful effects of stress. While aerobic exercises usually burn fat and help with losing weight, this effect is limited in swimming, even though being in cold water burns more food energy to maintain body temperature.
The reason that swimming does not significantly reduce weight is still poorly understood, but seems to be related to the better heat conduction of water. A number of reasons are suspected.

* First, water cools the body much faster than air, and most researchers believe that subsequently the body aims to maintain a layer of fat under the skin for insulation.
* Secondly, it is believed that appetite decreases as your body temperature increases, as for example during exercise. However, during swimming the body is cooled down almost instantly as the surrounding water is usually cooler than the body temperature, and some researchers believe that this may actually increase the appetite. This assumption is not yet proven by research.
* Thirdly, fast swimming requires a high level of effort, meaning glycogen rather than fat is burned. Prolonged exercise at lower intensity is better for fat-burning.
* Finally, some researchers also believe that the metabolism of the body increases at higher body temperature, burning more food energy. Again, during swimming the body is cooled down by the surrounding water, reducing the metabolism, and subsequently the amount of food energy burnt. This assumption is also not yet proven by research.

Swimming exercises almost all muscles in the body. Usually, the arms and upper body are exercised more than the legs. In competitive swimming, excessive leg muscles can be seen as a disadvantage as they consume more oxygen, which would be needed for the muscles of the arms. However, this depends on the swimming style. While breaststroke generates significant movement with the legs, front crawl propels the body mainly with the arms.
Sometimes the swimming consists of swimming laps using a conventional stroke, such as the front crawl; other forms can include different forms of exercise performed in the water, such as water aerobics.
Swimming may be good for asthma sufferers.