If you’ve ever jumped into a pool to do cardio, you’ll realize how much more energy is spent swimming than running and cycling.
Swimming is one of the best exercises. It helps to burn fat, lose weight, increase strength and improve overall health. Not to mention, swimming has a low impact, making it a great option for active recovery and injury prevention.
The reason for swimming so well is that every time you spread your arms, pedal or do a sprint, you’re resisting the water’s resistance, which is much denser than air. This helps strengthen muscles and burn many calories. While burning calories, muscle also becomes toned, meaning you’ll continue to burn calories throughout the day.
How many calories does swimming burn?
To find out how many calories you burn while swimming, you must first understand how scientists estimate the amount of energy the body uses during physical activity. The unit used is called the MET (or metabolic equivalent) and it measures the strenuous level of the body when working versus resting. When you lie down on a chair (also called rest), your body will burn 1 MET, equivalent to 1 calorie / kg of weight / hour. If you know how much an activity “consumes” MET and know how much you weigh, you can calculate the amount burned when performing the activity.
You can use an online calculator, using your weight and exercise time, to easily determine your calorie intake. While swimming, your body consumes from 3.5 MET (223 calories/hour) for moderate speed float; up to 8.3 MET (528 calories/hour) for moderate stride swimming; and 13.8 MET (878 calories/hour) for butterfly swimming. These estimates are for adults weighing 63kg.
For comparison, jogging costs 7 MET (446 calories/hour) and cycling is 7.5 MET (477 calories/hour), although MET and calories burned for these activities also vary by intensity.