Dive into a swimming regimen

Lap swimming offers a total-body workout of strengthening, stretching, and aerobic conditioning.

When you think of a swimming workout, you may envision an athlete pounding away at the water, racing from one end of the pool to the other. But you don't have to break speed records to reap the rewards of swimming back and forth, and you don't even have to do the competitive swimming stroke known as the crawl.

"The pace is up to you, and any stroke is fine. Breaststroke, sidestroke, and backstroke are often favored because a lot of people don't like putting their face in the water, like you have to do with the crawl," says Leigh de Chaves, a physical therapist and clinical supervisor of rehabilitation services at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. She also swam competitively in college.

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