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‘How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn?’ And Other Swimming FAQs

Swimming is fun and satisfying. It can help you cool off, and everyone should include physical activity in their lives. Swimming can help you exercise your entire body. If you’re trying to get fit, you might wonder how many calories swimming burns.

There are several factors that affect the number of calories burned while swimming. If you are trying to lose weight or get fit, knowing these factors is important because they can help you maximize the efficacy of your workout.

The first factor that influences the number of calories you burn while swimming is the intensity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association, one minute of high-intensity aerobic exercise is equivalent to two minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. If you swim faster and with more intensity, you’ll be burning more calories than if you were swimming at a more moderate pace

There are certain factors that you can’t modify, such as your age and gender. Men tend to burn approximately 10 to 15 percent more calories than women while exercising. You also burn fewer calories as you get older, since your muscle mass tends to decrease with age. 

Your metabolism also plays a role in this. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate, which means that you will burn calories faster. Your body weight can also influence the number of calories burned when you exercise. The heavier you are, the more calories you’ll burn performing any exercise. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association, one minute of high-intensity aerobic exercise is equivalent to two minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.

Swimming in cold water can slightly increase the number of calories that you burn, since your body will spend more energy keeping you warm. However, swimming in water that is too cold can be risky and lead to hypothermia. Swimming in cold water can also increase your appetite, so you need to avoid overeating once you get out of the water. 

Different swimming strokes can burn different amounts of calories. But on average, an individual who weighs approximately 150 pounds (68 kilograms) will burn about 400 calories during 1 hour of moderate-intensity swimming and approximately 700 calories after a 1-hour high-intensity swimming session.

Your swim stroke isn’t the only factor that determines how many calories you’ll burn while swimming. However, using certain strokes can make it easier for you to maximize your training sessions so that you can burn as many calories as possible in a shorter amount of time.

Taking a 140 pound (63 kilograms) person as an example, this is how many calories are burned with each swim stroke:

  • Treading water: 233 calories/hour
  • Backstroke: 305 calories/hour
  • Breaststroke: 337 calories/hour
  • Freestyle (light intensity): 369 calories/hour
  • Freestyle (moderate intensity): 528 calories/hour
  • Freestyle (high intensity): 623 calories/hour
  • Butterfly: 878 calories/hour

Being able to maintain your intensity is very important while performing any type of aerobic exercise. Swimming the butterfly might burn more calories, but if you can only sustain this stroke for a few minutes, you’ll probably work out more efficiently using a different stroke that you can sustain for longer.

Regardless of your metabolism, age, gender, or the temperature of the water, the best way to burn more calories when swimming is to incorporate high-intensity interval training (also known as HIIT) into your swimming sessions.

HIIT basically consists of working out at different intensities for different amounts of time throughout your workout. So rather than swimming at a moderate intensity for the whole hour, you’d intersperse high-intensity intervals with recovery periods.

For example: swim one lap freestyle at high-intensity and then the next lap at a slower pace so you can recover. You can repeat this several times throughout your swimming session. Research has shown that HIIT can actually make you burn 25 to 30 percent more calories while training. 

HIIT also stimulates something called the “afterburn effect,” which causes your body to burn more energy and calories after you exercise in an effort to return to its resting state.

It can be difficult to compare the exact amount of calories that you’d burn doing each exercise. There are many factors that can affect this measurement, such as the surface on which you are running or the intensity of your workout.

In general terms, all three activities burn a similar amount of calories. Runners can burn around 606 calories running for 1 hour at a speed of 5 miles per hour. Cyclists can burn approximately 292 calories in the same amount of time. Swimmers can burn anywhere between 233 to 878 calories in an hour, depending on the stroke and other factors previously described.

Swimmers can burn anywhere between 233 to 878 calories in an hour, depending on the stroke and other factors

However, the water also plays a role in this. Since water provides more resistance than air, swimmers get a more complete workout than runners or cyclists, whose effort mostly focuses on their lower bodies. Swimming is also better for your joints, since it doesn’t put any extra pressure or weight on them.

To stay healthy and reduce your risk of injury, there are certain steps you need to take once you are done exercising. Follow these steps when you get out of the water:

  • Rinse your skin and hair with fresh water to get rid of the chlorine. Otherwise, it can cause skin irritation or allergy.
  • Moisturize your skin and lips.
  • Drink some water.
  • Don’t wear damp clothes once you get out of the water. This can lead to rashes and fungal infections.
  • Wash your swimsuit by hand and let it air dry to make it last longer.
  • Eat a light meal that contains proteins and carbohydrates within an hour of leaving the water.

Swimming is a great form of exercise for anyone who is looking to do more cardio, lose weight, or get in shape. Swimming is a complete form of exercise that can provide full-body results.

The number of calories you burn while swimming depends on your personal characteristics, metabolism, and the swim stroke that you choose. The most important thing is to exercise regularly and maybe try incorporating HIIT into your routine.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25162652

https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/how-many-calories-do-you-burn-swimming

https://www.livestrong.com/article/366425-how-swimming-in-cold-water-helps-burn-calories/

https://www.shape.com/fitness/cardio/how-many-calories-does-swimming-burn

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/exercise/art-20050999

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