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Health Checkup: April 24, 2008

Swimming As A Total Body Workout

There are many reasons to take your next workout to the pool. First, it is a great cardiovascular exercise. If you push yourself hard enough, swimming can be comparable to -- if not more intense than -- running. Since you use both your upper and lower body to propel yourself through the water, you engage more muscles and burn more calories than with running.

Swimming is a great strengthening workout. The day after your first serious session in the pool, your upper body will likely be very sore. You will be using muscles in ways you don't normally use them, which will serve to strengthen your whole shoulder girdle as well as your back muscles.

Many people find swimming to be a good way to relieve stress. It allows you to clear your head so you are not only getting physical benefits, but psychological ones as well.

The most common swimming strokes are freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly, and backstroke -- with the butterfly considered the most difficult. It is critical to master the type of stroke you plan on using before trying to swim laps.

Freestyle swimming is what the name implies. There are no specific limitations on how your arms and legs must move. Freestyle is probably the most suitable style for beginners. A 150- to 180-pound male swimming freestyle will burn between 500 calories an hour at a moderate intensity to 700 calories an hour at a high intensity.

The breaststroke has a more defined pattern of movement. Your shoulders should be kept in line with the water, and your arm and leg movements should be coordinated to push together, performing the same actions. An hour swimming a breaststroke will burn about 750 calories.

During the butterfly stroke, your arms move together from behind you, up and out of the water, ending above your head before again entering the water, while your legs do a dolphin kick. The Butterfly demands the most energy output and burns approximately 800 calories an hour.

For the backstroke, perform the movement with your back facing the water, moving your arms and legs as you would if you were performing the freestyle stroke, and you will burn around 500 calories an hour.

The butterfly is the best bet for both fat loss and muscle building. If building muscle is your primary goal, perform the butterfly at the highest intensity possible, but for a shorter period of time.

One of the most important aspects of swimming is learning to regulate your breathing. If you haven't mastered your breathing rhythm, you will find it difficult to push yourself hard enough to derive benefits, as your muscles need oxygen to perform properly.


Depending on what your fitness goals are, there are various ways to work swimming into your workout regime. If you're just looking for general fitness and are using swimming as a cardio option, go for a 30- to 45-minute swim at a comfortable pace three to four times a week.

If you are looking to improve your fitness, however, you may wish to perform two of these longer moderately-paced sessions, along with one or two sessions at a higher intensity with some interval work. Approach this in the same manner you would on the treadmill: Swim one lap or a few lengths of the pool at an easier pace, and then swim half a lap or one or two lengths at all-out intensity.

It is a good idea to swim on days you aren't strength training, as swimming is quite taxing on the muscles and you may find yourself unable to put in a good session at the gym.

Finally, remember that you don't have to restrict yourself to just one stroke; in fact, a great way to prevent boredom is to mix it up. For example, during your interval workout, use a freestyle stroke for your easier intervals, and then do the butterfly stroke for the "sprint" intervals. This will also engage a greater variety of muscles, thus making your workout more productive.



Find out how many calories you burn doing your favorite activities. Knowing the number of calories you burn in conjuction with a sensible diet can help you lose or gain weight.

Demystifying the Penile Implant

Dr. Geoffrey N. Sklar, M.D., F.A.C.S. from Chesapeake Urology answers your questions about prosthetic devices to treat erectile dysfunction.

Q: I haven’t been successful with the various medications for erectile dysfunction. What else is there?
There are other options available to treat your erectile dysfunction, such as prosthetic devices that can be implanted into the penis. Implants can fully restore erectile function. I recommend them if you can’t take medication or if your medication isn’t working.

Q: How does an implant work?
The inflatable implant is the most common. It works using a hydraulic mechanical device. Before sex, fluid pumped from a reservoir into cylinders causes an erection. After sex, releasing the valve drains the fluid back into the reservoir.

Q: What are the benefits?
Most of my patients and their partners are very happy with the results. They have resumed normal, satisfying sex lives. The risks of the procedure are low, while success rates are very high.

Q: What is the recovery time?
The procedure lasts 1-2 hours and most men go home within 24 hours. Afterward, you will need to take antibiotics. Most of my patients can resume strenuous physical activity a month after surgery and sexual activity 4-6 weeks after surgery. Depending on your implant and medical needs, your recovery time may be different.

Q: How do I know if an implant is right for me?
Your age, health and medications you are taking will play a role in deciding what treatment is right for you. Discussing your needs with a board-certified urologist who is up-to-date on all the latest treatment options is your best bet. Our doctors at Chesapeake Urology are all board-certified and familiar with the most advanced technologies and treatment options available. We have helped thousands of men resume a satisfying sex life, and we can help you too.

Geoffrey Sklar, M.D. is an Associate Professor of Urology and former Chief of the Division of Urology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is certified by the American Board of Urology and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Sklar’s clinical research interests include erectile dysfunction and Peyronie’s disease.

For more information about Dr. Sklar and the services available at Chesapeake Urology Associates, call 1-866-955-0002 or visit our website at

Chesapeake Urology Associates is the premier urology practice in Maryland, treating prostate cancer, testicular cancer, erectile dysfunction and incontinence, plus performing vasectomies, reverse vasectomies and more. If you have a concern, schedule a screening today by calling 1-866-955-0002.

Issue 3.17: April 24, 2008