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Clin Physiol. 1997 Jul;17(4):347-59.

Effects of swim training on body weight, carbohydrate metabolism, lipid and lipoprotein profile.

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Exercise Science Unit, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Knoxville, TN 37996-2700, USA.


The beneficial effects of regular exercise are primarily based on data using land-based exercise. Currently, no data exist that demonstrate the efficacy of swimming exercise for the treatment of obesity and cardiovascular risk factors, despite the fact that swimming is a widely recommended exercise mode. Eighteen previously sedentary obese individuals were divided into a swim-training group and a non-exercising control group. The training group swam at 60% of maximal heart rate reserve for 45 min per day for 3 days per week for 10 weeks, whereas the control group remained sedentary. The swim-training programme produced significant cardiovascular training effects, as evidenced by reductions (P < 0.05) in resting and submaximal heart rate values in the training group. Significant reductions (P < 0.05) were also observed in the rating of perceived exertion and blood lactate concentrations during fixed submaximal exercise on an arm cycle ergometer. Caloric and macronutrient intake estimated from the dietary records stayed constant before and after training. Body mass, body fat percentage (36 +/- 2% vs. 35 +/- 2%) and body mass index, as well as regional adiposity, showed no statistically significant changes. Neither the training nor the control groups experienced significant changes in fasting serum glucose and insulin concentrations and glucose-insulin ratio during the study. Total, high-density lipoprotein (HDL)- and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol did not change significantly in either group. It was concluded that swim training of the duration, frequency and intensity used in the present study failed to elicit favourable modifications in these traditional cardiovascular risk factors.

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