How Many Calories Do You Burn While Swimming?


Being a non-impact sport, swimming is generally neutral on common problem areas like the knees and back. This makes the sport ideal for everyone looking to torch some calories.

If you have already invested in an active swimsuit and a good above the ground swimming pool, chances are, you have wanted to have a better understanding of the number of calories burned swimming. In this article, we will focus on answering the question “how many calories do you burn while swimming?”. We will also help you understand the factors that influence calories burned swimming.

How Many Calories Do You Burn While Swimming?

To figure out the answer to the question “how many calories do you burn while swimming?”, you need to understand how the amount of energy used by the body during physical activity is estimated. Scientists use a unit known as the Metabolic Equivalent (MET) – this unit measures how hard the body is working relative to when it is at rest.

When at rest, the body will burn 1 MET. 1 MET is equivalent to 1 calorie/kilogram of body weight per hour.

If you know how many METs swimming requires and you are already familiar with your current bodyweight, calculating the calories burned swimming should be easy. If you do not want to do a manual calculation, you can use online calculators which usually take into account your body weight and the exercise duration to determine the number of calories you burn.

When you put on your swim cap and swimming gloves and get in the pool, you will burn anywhere from 3.5 METs (223 calories/hour) when treading water using moderate effort to 8.3 METs (528 calories/hour) when moving at a medium-speed, vigorous crawl and 13.8 METs (878 calories/hour) for the butterfly stroke.

Note: The above estimates are for an adult weighing an average of 140 pounds.

Factors Affecting Calories Burned Swimming

Do not get caught up in the numbers we have mentioned above. The answer to the question “how many calories do you burn while swimming?” varies depending on several factors. The factors include:

1. Your Body

Someone who weighs more will expend more calories compared to someone who weighs less. This is because a large body will require more energy to move compared to a smaller body.

Additionally, a bigger body will create more surface area in the water and hence creating extra drag resistance. More drag means that more energy will be required to push through. This will increase the heart rate and hence resulting in increased caloric expenditure.

2. The Swim Speed

When you swim slowly, you use less energy – this means that you end up burning fewer calories. The faster you swim, the more energy you end up using.

3. Swim Devices

The use of swim devices, including pull buoys, parachutes, bands, and pull paddles results in increased drag or increased resistance. This will increase energy output, resulting in calorie consumption.

4. Swim Stroke

The number of calories burned swimming is affected by the stroke itself. The harder the stroke, the higher the number of calories you end up burning.

If a 140-pound swimmer puts on a swimming cap and gets in his/her properly maintained swimming pool, the number of calories he/she will burn, based on the stroke, will be as shown below:

  • Treading water (using moderate effort):5 METs = 223 calories per hour.
  • Backstroke:8 METs = 305 calories per hour.
  • Breaststroke:3 METs = 337 calories per hour.
  • Freestyle/crawl (using moderate or light effort):8 METs = 369 calories/hour.
  • Freestyle/crawl (using medium effort):3 METs = 528 calories per hour.
  • Freestyle/crawl (using fast or vigorous effort):8 METs = 623 calories per hour.
  • Butterfly:8 METs = 878 calories per hour.

Note: Being able to maintain the intensity is extremely important when you are performing any aerobic exercise. While using the butterfly stroke may burn more calories, if you can only sustain the stroke for just a couple of minutes, you won’t get major benefits from the stroke. Using a different stroke that you can sustain for an extended period may be a much better idea.

5. Water Temperature

Swimming in cold water can increase the number of calories you burn. This is because the body will spend more energy keeping your body warm. It is, however, worth noting that swimming in water that is too cold may be risky and can lead to hypothermia.



Q: How Many Calories Do You Burn While Swimming For 30 Minutes?


The answer to this question will vary from one person to the other depending on the factors we have already mentioned above. If, however, you weigh 140 pounds and you intend to tread water using a moderate rate, you should expect to use 223 calories/hour. Therefore, for the first 30 minutes, you should be able to burn approximately 111.5 calories.

Q: Is Swimming A Good Way to Lose Weight?


Swimming does burn calories. This tells you that it can help with weight loss, muscle toning, as well as improving the overall fitness and health. If you would like to use swimming to lose weight, the following tips may come in handy:

Use the Right Stroke

As noted earlier, the butterfly stroke burns the most calories. While it is the most ideal stroke for shedding extra weight, the butterfly stroke does not work for most people – swimming with this stroke even for 10 minutes is usually extremely tough.

We recommend the next best thing – the freestyle technique. This technique is much easier to learn and swim with and is still an ideal choice for those trying to lose bodyweight.

Interval Training

This can be as simple as swimming as fast as you possibly can for a lap and then swimming in a more relaxed way for the next lap. This can help you accelerate the fat burning process without having to exhaust yourself.

Swim More Regularly

Consider swimming more days in a week. For example, you should consider swimming for at least 4 to 5 days every 7 days.

Q: Is it Better to Swim or Run?


Swimming and running have their benefits when it comes to improving your cardiovascular health and helping with weight loss. However, the advantages offered by swimming do outweigh those offered by running.

When you swim, you end up getting a full-body workout that is much easier on the joints than when running. While running mostly focuses on working the lower body muscles, swimming will work both the lower and upper body muscles, with the upper body muscles being used to pull the body through the water and the lower muscles pushing you through.

It takes more physical effort to swim 2 miles than it does to run the same 2 miles. In other words, swimming generally takes more of a cardio effort than running.

Another plus for running is the water resistance. Compared to the wind resistance associated with running, the water resistance is much stronger and consistent. This resistance forces you to burn more calories.

Unlike running, swimming is a low-impact exercise. This makes it ideal for everyone, including those dealing with joint pain.

It is important that you do not count running out though. If you can run 7 miles per hour, you can burn up to 700 calories every 60 minutes. This means that running features more weight loss potential. However, for overall health purposes, swimming is a more ideal option.

Q: Which Type of Swimming Burns the Most Calories?


Being the hardest and most technical stroke, the butterfly burns the most calories. If you decide to use the butterfly stroke after donning your swimming earplugs and swimming goggles, you will have to do the dolphin kick while the hands are coming fully overhead. This calls for serious and total-body muscle engagement.

If you weigh 140 pounds, you should expect to burn 878 calories per hour when using the butterfly stroke.

Q: Does Swimming Burn Belly Fat?


Swimming is highly aerobic and if done routinely can help burn belly fat. To increase the rate at which the belly fat disappears, you may want to focus on swimming exercises that target the core. Such exercises include butterfly kicks which target the obliques and the flutter kicks which target your lower abs. Swimming regularly and for more hours (or minutes) per session can help you lose the belly fat more quickly.

Q: How Many Laps in the Pool Is A Good Workout?


The answer to this question is largely dependent on personal preference and your end goal. However, below, we have outlined some ideal guidelines:

  • 60 to 80 laps (about 1500 meters) for beginners
  • 120 to 140 laps for the intermediate swimmer
  • 180 to 200 laps for the advanced swimmer

Globo Surf Overview

In this article, we have explored the answer to the question “how many calories do you burn while swimming?”. As you have probably noticed, we did not give you the specific number of calories you will end up burning when swimming. This is because calories burned swimming vary depending on a wide range of factors. To determine the calories you will end up burning after your swim session, you may need to consider the session’s duration, your weight, and a variety of other factors we have outlined above.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!