How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn? A Comprehensive Guide

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The Surprising Benefits of Swimming for Calorie Burning

Swimming is often regarded as one of the best forms of exercise due to its low impact on joints and overall body. Not only does swimming offer a full-body workout, but it also provides a surprising number of benefits when it comes to calorie burning. In this article, we will explore the various ways in which swimming can help you burn calories and achieve your fitness goals.

swimmer swimming laps in a pool

The Science Behind Calorie Burning in Swimming

Before diving into the benefits of swimming for calorie burning, it’s important to understand the science behind it. The number of calories burned during any physical activity depends on several factors, including body weight, intensity, and duration of the exercise. Swimming, being a full-body exercise, engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, resulting in a higher calorie burn compared to other forms of exercise.

Increased Muscle Engagement

One of the primary reasons swimming is an excellent calorie-burning exercise is because it engages a large number of muscles throughout the body. Unlike certain exercises that primarily target specific muscle groups, swimming requires the coordination and activation of various muscles, including the arms, legs, core, and back. This increased muscle engagement leads to a higher calorie burn and helps in toning and sculpting the body.

Enhanced Cardiovascular Fitness

Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that gets your heart pumping and increases your lung capacity. When you swim, your heart has to work harder to supply oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, which in turn boosts your cardiovascular fitness. Regular swimming sessions can improve your overall endurance, allowing you to swim for longer periods and burn more calories.

Low Impact on Joints

The low-impact nature of swimming makes it an ideal exercise for individuals with joint problems or those recovering from injuries. Unlike high-impact exercises like running or weightlifting, swimming puts minimal stress on the joints while still providing an intense workout. This allows you to engage in longer swimming sessions, thus maximizing your calorie burn without the risk of joint pain or injury.

Increased Metabolic Rate

Swimming has been shown to increase the metabolic rate both during and after the exercise. The body requires more energy to regulate body temperature in the water, resulting in a higher metabolic rate. Additionally, swimming helps in building lean muscle mass, which further contributes to an increased metabolic rate. A higher metabolic rate means that your body continues to burn calories even after you’ve finished swimming, making it an effective exercise for weight loss.

Variety of Swimming Strokes

Another advantage of swimming for calorie burning is the wide variety of strokes to choose from. Each swimming stroke engages different muscle groups, providing a well-rounded workout. The four main swimming strokes – freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly – offer different levels of intensity and calorie burn. By incorporating different strokes into your swimming routine, you can target specific muscle groups and prevent workout monotony.

Swim for Longer Durations

Swimming allows for longer workout durations compared to many other forms of exercise. Due to the buoyancy of water, the body feels lighter, reducing the impact on joints and allowing individuals to swim for extended periods. Longer swimming sessions result in a higher overall calorie burn and provide an opportunity to improve endurance and stamina.

Calorie Burning Comparison

To put the calorie-burning benefits of swimming into perspective, let’s compare it to other popular exercises. According to research conducted by Harvard Medical School, a 155-pound person can burn approximately 223 calories during 30 minutes of moderate-intensity swimming. In comparison, the same person would burn around 298 calories while running at a 5 mph pace for the same duration. While running may burn more calories per minute, swimming offers the advantage of being a full-body exercise with lower impact on joints.

Incorporating Swimming into Your Fitness Routine

If you’re looking to incorporate swimming into your fitness routine for calorie burning, here are some tips to get started:

  1. Start Slow: If you’re new to swimming, begin with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration and intensity as your fitness level improves.
  2. Mix Up Your Strokes: To maximize calorie burn and engage different muscle groups, try incorporating a variety of swimming strokes into your routine.
  3. Interval Training: Incorporate interval training into your swimming sessions by alternating between high-intensity and low-intensity laps. This can help increase calorie burn and improve cardiovascular fitness.
  4. Join a Swim Class: Consider joining a swim class or hiring a swim coach to learn proper technique and improve your swimming efficiency.
  5. Track Your Progress: Use a fitness tracker or smartphone app to track your swimming workouts and monitor your calorie burn over time.
  6. Combine with Other Exercises: To further enhance your fitness goals, consider combining swimming with other exercises such as strength training or yoga to create a well-rounded fitness routine.

Dive into Fitness: Calculating Calorie Burn in Swimming

Swimming is an excellent way to stay fit and burn calories, but have you ever wondered how many calories you are actually burning during your swim sessions? In this article, we will dive into the various factors that affect calorie burn in swimming and provide you with a simple method to calculate your own calorie burn.

Understanding Calorie Burn

Calorie burn is a measure of the energy expended during physical activity. The number of calories burned depends on various factors, including body weight, intensity of exercise, and duration of the activity. To determine the calorie burn during swimming, we need to consider these factors and apply them to a simple formula.

Factors Affecting Calorie Burn in Swimming

  1. Body Weight: The more you weigh, the more calories you burn during exercise. This is because it requires more energy to move a heavier body through the water.
  2. Intensity: The intensity of your swimming session plays a significant role in calorie burn. Higher intensity workouts, such as sprints or interval training, result in a higher calorie burn compared to leisurely swimming.
  3. Duration: The longer you swim, the more calories you will burn. However, it’s important to maintain a balance between duration and intensity to avoid overexertion or fatigue.
  4. Swimming Stroke: Different swimming strokes engage different muscle groups and vary in intensity. For example, the butterfly stroke is more demanding and burns more calories compared to the breaststroke.

Calculating Calorie Burn in Swimming

To calculate your calorie burn during swimming, you can use the following formula:

Calories Burned = (MET x Body Weight in kg x Time in hours)

MET (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) is a measure of the energy expenditure of an activity relative to rest. The MET value for swimming varies depending on the intensity and swimming stroke used. Here are some approximate MET values for different swimming activities:

  • Freestyle (moderate intensity): 6 METs
  • Freestyle (vigorous intensity): 8 METs
  • Backstroke: 7 METs
  • Breaststroke: 7 METs
  • Butterfly: 10 METs

Let’s take an example to illustrate how to calculate calorie burn in swimming:

Body Weight: 70 kg
Swimming Stroke: Freestyle (moderate intensity)
Duration: 1 hour

Calories Burned = (6 METs x 70 kg x 1 hour) = 420 calories

Using this formula, you can calculate the approximate calorie burn for your swimming sessions based on your body weight, swimming stroke, and duration.

Using Technology to Track Calorie Burn

If you prefer a more accurate and convenient method of tracking your calorie burn, there are several technological options available. Fitness trackers and smartwatches with built-in swim tracking features can provide real-time data on your swimming performance, including distance covered, stroke count, and calorie burn. These devices use advanced algorithms to calculate calorie burn based on your personal information and swimming metrics.

Tips to Maximize Calorie Burn in Swimming

To maximize your calorie burn during swimming sessions, consider the following tips:

  1. Increase Intensity: Incorporate high-intensity intervals into your swimming workout, such as sprinting or swimming at a faster pace for short bursts. This can significantly increase calorie burn and improve cardiovascular fitness.
  2. Vary Your Strokes: By alternating between different swimming strokes, you engage different muscle groups and challenge your body in new ways, resulting in a higher calorie burn.
  3. Swim Longer Distances: Gradually increase the distance covered during your swimming sessions to extend the duration and overall calorie burn.
  4. Incorporate Strength Training: Combine swimming with strength training exercises to build lean muscle mass. Muscles require more energy, even at rest, leading to a higher metabolic rate and increased calorie burn.
  5. Stay Consistent: Regular swimming sessions will yield better results in terms of calorie burn and overall fitness. Aim for at least three to four swimming workouts per week to see significant improvements.


Swimming is not only a refreshing and enjoyable activity but also an effective way to burn calories and improve overall fitness. By understanding the factors that affect calorie burn in swimming and using the provided formula, you can calculate your own calorie burn and track your progress effectively. Incorporate these tips into your swimming routine and dive into fitness with confidence, knowing that you are making the most out of your swim sessions.