Swimming: effects on cellulite

Swimming: effects on cellulite

If you aren’t aware of the benefits of swimming on cellulite yet, let me present them here! And as an added bonus: practical advice for getting rid of it.

I have to say, I’m not planning to talk about the “summer body”. After all; the “perfect” body is the one in which we feel good and healthy. So, it is up to you whether you want to focus on your cellulite ... or not. The good thing is that, by trying to get rid of it, you’re likely to reap several other benefits for your body as well as for your mental state. Whether you have cellulite or not, I’m keen to tell you to get into the water, which can only do you good.

Before moving on to practical matters, what is cellulite?

Let’s start with the basics, what is cellulite? To put it simply, cellulite, what we sometimes call dimpled or orange-peel skin, is a cluster of fat usually located on the buttocks, hips or thighs, and sometimes on the stomach or arms.

It affects around 90% of women, even if they don't have weight problems. Only 2% of men have cellulite. Why? It’s because of genetics. Women have a larger amount of fat and their skin is thinner, which is conducive to cellulite. Hormones and oestrogens also have an impact on the skin, as they are often the cause of problems in blood circulation.

Cellulite can be genetic, hormonal or linked to lifestyle. I’m not going to give you false hope, it’s not easy to get rid of it. And it will never disappear completely. But, with a few good habits, we can reduce the orange-peel effect and improve the appearance of the skin.

And what are these good habits?
While this is not an exhaustive list, here are three habits which should help substantially.

A good diet and hydration

By reducing saturated fats and sugar. And drinking lots of water. But note that accidentally inhaling water in the pool doesn’t count ;)

Massage and self-care

No, I’m not going to talk to you about anti-cellulite creams. You’ve likely heard it countless times before – these creams don’t work miracles, but taking care of your skin every day can’t do any harm.

Regular exercise

This is your best ally for getting rid of cellulite. What kind of sports should you go for? Walking, preferably speed walking, strength training, and, of course, all aquatic sports, in particular swimming.

Swimming: effects on cellulite

Swimming can combat cellulite

If exercise in general is a good idea for reducing cellulite, swimming is particularly effective. And that's for a number of good reasons. I’ll share some of them with you. Let’s go!

Swimming: effects on cellulite

Swimming builds muscle

What does that have to do with cellulite and orange-peel skin? Well, as I mentioned just above, strength training is one of the best activities for reducing cellulite. The good news: swimming helps to build muscle! The build of experienced swimmers is proof, right?

Moreover, with the water resistance when propelling yourself through the water, swimming can be compared to strength training. Going into more detail, swimming elongates muscles rather than bulking them. What does that mean? It means that swimming stretches the muscles, it allows you to tone up without putting on too much muscle mass, or “bulking up”, to use the slang term. If that was your aim, you should head to the gym (alongside the pool, of course).

Which muscles are worked? All of them, which is the good news! But some are used more than others, the upper body in particular. The other piece of good news is that swimming thoroughly tones the midsection thanks to the reliance on core strength, which makes you more streamlined.

Swimming: effects on cellulite

Water has benefits for the skin

I don't really need to exaggerate the benefits of water. You will have definitely heard people talking about fresh water jet massages for getting rid of cellulite. And, well, a session in the pool is a whole massage session for your whole body, without even thinking about it.

In fact, water provides a heat massage, which means that every movement in the pool acts on your skin. Thanks to the pressure of the water, your tissues are drained and water retention is reduced. And as water retention is partly responsible for cellulite, this too is reduced. So, above all, we shouldn’t avoid doing a succession of lengths, with or without accessories.

Don't forget the alternatives to swimming either: aquafitness, aquabiking, and all the other sports which are performed in the water.

And if you feel like a change from chlorinated pools, head to the beach. Swimming in the sea is excellent for the skin. As well as the heat massage effects already mentioned, salty water is an excellent purifying exfoliant for the skin.

Swimming: effects on cellulite

5 Exercises to do in the pool to reduce cellulite

That’s it for the theoretical information, let’s move on to practical matters! Here are five exercises to perform in the pool to combat cellulite while having a good time.

Exercise no.1: undulations for targeting cellulite on the stomach

It’s no secret, to get rid of cellulite which has appeared on your stomach, you have to tone up this area. The best swimming stroke for strengthening your abs: butterfly. Don't panic, I don't mean to get you to splash the whole pool trying out your technique. The butterfly stroke isn’t easy, but with a few drills, we can make progress. And we can combat cellulite.

Accessories: a board to help you a little, but this isn’t essential.

Performing the exercise: stretch out with your arms extended in front of you. Position yourself close to the wall and push off with your feet. Travel as far as possible by undulating your body. This exercise can be carried out on your front, your back or on your side. It’s called side undulations.

Exercise no.2: an alternative for toning the stomach is undulations on the spot

Don’t fancy lots of trips back and forth in a large pool? Try undulations on the spot. I promise, it's you that’s staying in one place, not your progress.

Accessories: none.

Performing the exercise: stand in the water up to chest height and position yourself horizontally. Bring your arms together above your head. Undulate with your legs for 30 seconds, repeat the exercise eight times.

Swimming: effects on cellulite

Exercise no.3: fins for defining legs

The secret to mastering front crawl? The technique for kicking your legs, which is often neglected. It should be a smooth movement for fluid swimming. To improve the technique, put on fins, and set aside the arm movements to concentrate on the lower body.

Accessories: long fins make the thighs and buttocks work more. The longer blade requires greater effort to propel yourself.

Performing the exercise: swim a few lengths of front crawl with your fins. To immobilise the arms and increase the work of the legs, place your arms in front of you and hold a board. Alternate lengths with or without a board.

Swimming: effects on cellulite

Exercise no.4: arms-free breaststroke, for building muscle on the thighs

Some swimmers dismiss this stroke. However, breaststroke brings only advantages. It builds muscle on the thighs in particular, thanks to the movement of the legs. And yes, using the frog leg movement in a pool can be good. If you are among those who are not reluctant, this exercise is for you. If you’re in the other camp, give it a go.

Accessories: a board.

Performing the exercise: place your arms above your head, with the help of a board, if needed. Concentrate on your legs, without thinking about your arms, or the coordination of your movements. And you’re ready to swim some lengths. To vary the exercise, you can switch to your back.

Exercise no.5: a pull buoy? because we mustn’t forget about cellulite on the arms

It’s not the type that we see most often, but cellulite can sometimes appear on the arms. With a few targeted exercises, we can partially get rid of it. It’s a particularly good way of building your technique as well as your arms. The principle: make the arms work harder by immobilising the legs, and thereby increasing the required propulsion force. And as an added bonus: to hold the pull buoy in place, you have to really engage your core. Your abs and thighs confirm this!

Accessories: a pull buoy to slip between the thighs, or a board, but it’s less practical. And to increase the resistance: swimming paddles.

Performing the exercise: hold the pull buoy tightly between your thighs and simply swim a few lengths using just your arms. Are your muscles starting to heat up? That’s completely normal. Then you should try it with some swimming paddles ;)

So, now you’re up to speed on the theory, why not head back to the pool. Let me stress: swimming is an excellent means of fighting against orange-peel skin, but what’s more important is that it’s fun! No experienced swimmer will tell you otherwise.