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Your face is always kept out of the water during the elementary backstroke.
David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images
The elementary backstroke is one of the simplest swimming strokes that you can do on your back. You do not burn as many calories as a more intense form of the backstroke, but you keep your face above water the entire time. This is a great swimming stroke to use when rescuing another individual because your breathing remains steady and easy. It can also be used as a form of aerobic exercise with emphasis on toning the muscles in the back, shoulders, chest and legs. It is elementary because it is easy for beginners to learn, but can be used no matter what your swimming level.
The Stroke in Action
Begin the elementary backstroke by laying on your back in the water facing upwards with your body gently floating. Draw your hands from the side of your body while bending your elbows. Extend your hands and arms back over your head one at a time, while pushing your hands downwards with the water. You will propel your body through the water by making this movement. Pull your knees up and out with your heels touching and then stretch your legs out straight to push your body backwards. Bring them together and start over. This is known as a frog kick. Your arms and legs should work together so that you move through the water without submerging your face. You should also be breathing easily and able to freely move through the water.
Variables: Intensity, Weight and Time
The amount of calories that you burn when swimming this stroke will depend a lot on the intensity that you put forth, how much you weigh, and the amount of time that you swim. The more you weigh and the harder that you swim, the higher the amount of calories you will burn doing the elementary backstroke. A 120-pound person swimming an easy pace will burn 120 to 220 calories in 30 minutes. A 200-pound person swimming at a vigorous pace will burn 200 to 400 calories in 30 minutes. There are many variables that determine the exact amount of calories that you burn; try using a calorie calculator based upon your height, weight and the intensity of your workout to get an accurate figure.
Make Your Workout Count
The elementary backstroke is a relatively relaxed and easy stroke, so burn extra calories by amping up the intensity as much as you can. If you work hard at the stroke, move quickly and kick with power you will burn more calories. You can also increase the amount of time that you spend doing the elementary backstroke in the water each session. A healthy diet with the right number of calories for your body and weight can also help your exercise make a difference in your weight and fitness goals. Speak with a physician about the amount of calories you should be eating as well as the exercise intensity that is right for you.
Benefits of the Elementary Backstroke
The elementary backstroke has a few benefits besides burning calories. Breathing is very easy as the face is always out of water, which is important for swimmers who are not comfortable submerging their faces. It is an easy stroke to learn and is not difficult to perform correctly. You do not have to be super coordinated to understand how to do the stroke, so it is a good choice for beginners, senior citizens or children. Swimming is a good way to burn calories without putting pressure on the joints, which is helpful for those with arthritis or other types of joint or impact pain.
- David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images