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How many calories does swimming burn?

Swimming is not only relaxing and enjoyable, but also good for you. You build up muscle tone by swimming laps, and so your muscle strength improves, too. Swimming brings a number of major health benefits. Water exerts slight resistance, just enough so that you have to put in a little effort.

Swimming exerts far less stress on your joints than jogging does, for instance. This means that swimming for one hour a few times a week gives your body a really thorough and effective workout, with little risk of injury. Perhaps you need to lose a few pounds.

Just how effective is swimming really, as a way to lose weight? How many calories does swimming burn?

How many calories does swimming burn? The importance of body weight

According to information from the Netherlands Nutrition Centre, men should aim to take in 2,500 kilocalories (kcal) a day. For women, the figure is 2,000 kcal. These are typical values and can of course vary from person to person. The rate at which someone burns calories depends on a number of factors. Body mass is one of them. Someone weighing 70 kg burns fewer calories swimming for an hour than someone weighing 100 kg.

How does swimming compare to other exercise?

Sports physiologists use a variety of models to measure or calculate exercise and calorie burn. One of the best-known techniques uses the MET value. MET is an abbreviation for 'Metabolic Equivalent of Task'. Physiologists use the MET value of an activity to calculate the energy burn per minute or per hour, and can compare different exercises against one another. Every activity has a typical MET value.

For example, the MET value when sleeping is equivalent to 0.9, while the most strenuous physical exertion has a MET value of 18.0. Swimming laps might achieve a MET value of 4.8. Jogging has a MET value of 7.0. Cycling and walking have a MET value between 3.6 and 4.0. Swimming laps, at a moderate and steady pace, is considered a moderately strenuous activity from a physiological perspective. The MET value of swimming depends on the stroke, and how energetically you swim.

Swimming laps doing breaststroke

If you swim gently doing breaststroke, your exercise has a MET value of 4.8. This is the same as swimming gentle laps doing backstroke. An experienced swimmer who also goes fast doing breaststroke can reckon on a MET value of 7.6.

How many calories does breaststroke burn?

Assume someone weighs 75 kg. Swimming for an hour doing regular breaststroke burns 417 kcal. Going extra fast will burn almost 600 calories.

One hour swimming front crawl

Front crawl is a more strenuous stroke than the familiar breaststroke. The MET value for a leisurely front crawl is 8.3. Swimming faster leads to a MET value of 9.8, which is equivalent to intensive rope skipping.

Assuming one hour swimming front crawl, you will burn 650 kcal if you swim at a normal pace. Swimming fast laps burns 772 kcal.

Burn calories doing butterfly

The butterfly stroke is known for its intensity. If you can do butterfly for an hour, you are probably in very good shape. Physiologists have calculated the MET value of doing butterfly to be 11.1. Someone with average body weight burns no fewer than 874 kcal an hour.

How can swimming laps to lose weight still be fun and interesting?

Swimming, exercising and losing weight is best if it's still fun for yourself too. How about some stirring music while swimming? Or you can make it a family activity. Doing the same stroke for an hour can get boring after a while. Using different strokes when swimming laps will still burn off plenty of calories, while also exercising other muscles at the same time.

It can be a good idea to alternate swimming with exercise such as push-ups or rope skipping. If you start feeling a bit overheated after an intense workout, take a refreshing dip in your own pool.

While working out, burn off calories in a small pool

Can a small pool or plunge pool be any use for a really good workout? Absolutely! The Starline Urban Active is specially designed to accommodate a Starline Endless Swimming system. A Starline Endless Swimming system generates a natural current to swim against, with 6 different speed settings. On a low setting, the current produces a relaxing effect. On a high setting, it provides the ultimate in swimming training. Various settings mean there are swimming programmes to challenge even professional swimmers.

How can you watch calories responsibly?

Every day, we take in calories as part of our food. Every day, we do work which burns calories. It all comes down to balance. If we take in more calories every day than we burn off, then the excess is likely to be stored as fatty tissue. An active lifestyle leaving time for sports activities, together with a healthy and responsible diet, is the best way to maintain this balance. Swimming laps on a regular basis can certainly help with that.