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How Many Calories Do You Burn by Swimming? | MedGuidance

How Many Calories Do You Burn by Swimming?

Swimming is a nonimpact activity that burns quite a lot of calories. The calories that you burn during your swimming sessions will help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight, which in turn may reduce your health risks.The actual number of calories burned depends on a few different factors, but this article will give you a rough estimate of the calories burned while swimming.

What Is Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET)?

A MET value is a measurement of the energy expended for a specific activity for a certain period of time. A MET of 1 is about the same as the energy a person expends by sitting still in a room temperature room and not actively digesting food. An activity with a MET of 2 is roughly twice as much energy expended in the same amount of time.

The MET was designed to make a classification system of different activities for the purposes of research. MET values do not account for differences in body mass, fat levels, age, or conditions during which the activity is performed. Each individual expends a different amount of energy doing the same task at the same intensity, so the MET values in the table below are estimates of calories burned swimming.

Calories Burned While Swimming 

The number of calories burned while swimming depends on your weight, the intensity of the activity, your conditioning level, and of course your metabolism.

For a person weighing 160 lb and swimming for 80 minutes, here are the METs and calories burned for different swimming activities.

Types of Stroke

MET

Calories Burned

Tubing, floating on a river, general

2.3

234

Treading water, moderate effort, general

3.5

356

Backstroke, recreational

4.8

489

Breaststroke, recreational

5.3

540

Water aerobics, water calisthenics

5.5

560

Laps, freestyle, front crawl, slow, light or moderate effort

5.8

591

Lake, ocean, river

6

611

Leisurely, not lap swimming, general

6

611

Sidestroke, general

7

713

Synchronized

8

815

Crawl, medium speed, vigorous effort

8.3

845

Backstroke, general, training or competition

9.5

967

Treading water, fast, vigorous effort

9.8

998

Laps, freestyle, fast, vigorous effort

9.8

998

Crawl, fast speed, vigorous effort

10

1018

Breaststroke, general training or competition

10.3

1049

Butterfly, general

13.8

1405

How Are Calories Burned While Swimming Calculated?

The calories burned swimming are calculated by finding the calories burned per minute. For this you multiply the MET value of the task by your weight in kg and 3.5. Then you divide that number by 200. Then you multiply the calories burned per minute by the amount of time that swimming is performed to find the total calories burned.

For example:

A person weighing 160 lb. swims fast speed (a MET value of 10) for 80 minutes. Let’s calculate how many calories he/she will burn.

160 lb is equal to 72.58 kg

Calories burned per minute equals 10 x 72.58 x 3.5 / 200 = 12.70

Calories burned for 80 minutes equals 12.70 x 80 = 1018

For more body weight, please check in the table below.

 

 

Calories Burned According to Body Weight

Types of Stroke

MET

120

140

180

200

Tubing, floating on a river, general

2.3

174

203

261

290

Treading water, moderate effort, general

3.5

265

309

397

441

Backstroke, recreational

4.8

363

423

544

605

Breaststroke, recreational

5.3

401

467

601

668

Water aerobics, water calisthenics

5.5

416

485

624

693

Laps, freestyle, front crawl, slow, light or moderate effort

5.8

438

512

658

731

Lake, ocean, river

6

454

529

680

756

Leisurely, not lap swimming, general

6

454

529

680

756

Sidestroke, general

7

529

617

794

882

Synchronized

8

605

706

907

1008

Crawl, medium speed, vigorous effort

8.3

627

732

941

1046

Backstroke, general, training or competition

9.5

718

838

1077

1197

Treading water, fast, vigorous effort

9.8

741

864

1111

1235

Laps, freestyle, fast, vigorous effort

9.8

741

864

1111

1235

Crawl, fast speed, vigorous effort

10

756

882

1134

1260

Breaststroke, general training or competition

10.3

779

908

1168

1298

Butterfly, general

13.8

1043

1217

1565

1739

Tips to Burn More Calories in the Pool

1. Push Yourself

Your heart rate should be around 80% of your max for as long in your workout as possible. To make sure you are in that range, stop after 10 or 15 minutes and check your pulse for 6 seconds. Then add a zero to the end of the number. Vigorous swimming can burn up to 680 calories for a 150 lb woman.

2. Go Ahead and Play

Swim with a kick board, swim fins, pool noodle, or other toys. These items are easy to find at a sporting goods store. It will actually help you burn more calories as well as help to tone your arms and legs.

3. Change It Up

Do what is called a ladder. Swim in this pattern: 1 lap, 2 laps, 4 laps, 6 laps, 4 laps, 2 laps, 1 lap with 15 to 30 second rests in between.

4. Go Faster

Swimming faster will help you to burn even more calories. That doesn’t mean you have to race through your whole workout, though. Alternate between fast and easy laps to get the most from your swimming workout.

5. Don’t Take Breaks

Your workout should consist of less than 10% resting. Cut your resting time in half so that you only pause for 10 seconds between laps.

How Does Swimming Compare to Other Sports?

Is swimming really the best calorie burning activity? The answer is no, it’s not the activity with the highest calorie burning rate. That would be cross-country skiing uphill. But of the more common endurance sports swimming is up near the top.

Running, which is a high impact activity, for an hour at a 9-minute mile pace will burn between 649 and 1,024 calories depending on weight. The calories burned goes up the faster you run. This makes sense since running is believed to be the best endurance sport for losing weight.

Cycling for an hour at 15 miles per hour burns between 590 and 931 calories.

Swimming is right up there with the rest, and its much lower impact on the joints. It’s definitely a workout you can enjoy. Calories burned swimming are going to feel a lot easier to lose than running that mile.

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