Is Swimming A Good Workout For Weight Loss?

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If you are on the journey of losing weight or planning to start it, you know that cardio is the part you will have a hard time skipping; some sort of cardio is inevitable. Cardio is helpful because it helps you use the excess energy your body has stored in its fat reserves, allowing you to lose those inches and get your figure where you want it to be. Cardio can take many different shapes!

You can opt for brisk walking outside, brisk walking on the treadmill, running outside, running on a treadmill, biking outside or on the bike at the gym, using the rowing machine, swimming… and many more. But if you are bored of the traditional kinds of cardio and you want to try something new and have fun doing it, you should give swimming a try! So Is Swimming A Good Workout For Weight Loss?

Is swimming a good cardio option? 

Swimming at the beach is one thing, but swimming for cardio can initially seem complex and scary. However, swimming is an excellent aerobic workout that anyone of any age, any gender, and any level of physical ability can do. In fact, swimming is one of the best cardiovascular workouts anyone can do!

Since the water supports over 90% of our body weight, swimming is easy on the joints. Swimming also strengthens the heart muscle, and it uses all of the muscles in your body, providing a fantastic full-body workout, perfect for weight loss.  

Swimming is, in fact, both a cardio and a strength workout all at once. Swimming is a cardiovascular exercise because it is very demanding and challenging and will definitely increase your heart rate. And since water provides resistance, and your body has to fight to get through that resistance to move forward and move from point A to point B, your muscles are also getting stronger and bigger with every stroke your take. 

Of course, trying something new and changing your workout routine can be scary. If your goal is weight loss and you have a timeline in mind, you probably don’t want to waste time on something that might be ineffective. Let’s go over everything you need to know about how swimming can be used as a weight-loss tool, and how to make the most of your swimming workouts. 

Are there any considerations when starting swimming for weight loss? 

starting swimming for weight loss

If you are new to swimming, you might be wondering if there are some considerations you should have and precautions you should take before starting to work out. After all, swimming as a workout is much different than taking a dip in the pool or in the ocean. 

Before you go right into some popular exercise techniques, some of the most important tips to keep in mind during your workout routine include:

  • Consider consulting with your healthcare provider before starting. 
  • Start every swimming session by warming up before going into the water. For warm-up exercises, always opt for dynamic stretches, the same ones you would do before you start your weightlifting workout. 
  • Always start slow and move towards a faster pace to avoid hurting yourself. By doing so, you will also avoid getting tired way too early and not being able to finish your swimming workout. 
  • If you are having trouble staying in the water, if you feel any fear, or if you don’t feel confident in the water, make sure to use pool accessories like noodles and floats to make your time in the pool more comfortable.

Also Read: Top 7 Best Earplugs for Swimmers 2023

How does swimming help you lose weight? 

Any exercise that helps you lose weight does so by burning calories, and therefore burning energy stored in your body, precisely your fat. That is the only way to do so, and swimming does just that. But unlike other kinds of exercises, such as running, walking, or cycling, moving through the water requires more energy due to the water’s resistance, which forces your muscles to work harder than they do during other kinds of cardio.

The mentioned water resistance will also build your muscles over time (especially the muscles of your upper body), which is going to make you stronger and increase your metabolic rate.  

How can you burn more calories while swimming?

How can you burn more calories while swimming

If you are doing cardio for the purpose of losing weight, your goal should be to burn as many calories in that allotted period of time to avoid wasting time and burning out, losing motivation to even do cardio anymore.

Swimming will burn a lot of calories as is, but there are ways to make swimming more challenging for the body, which will help the body burn more calories, moving you closer to your weight loss goal. If you are a complete begging, I would advise against these strategies – try them only if you are accommodated to the pool. 

1. Change up your stroke. 

Different strokes are going to burn a different number of calories per hour. The butterfly stroke is the first on the list as it burns the most calories per hour, and it is followed by backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle.

However, try swimming butterfly for more than a few minutes, and you will find yourself completely exhausted – the butterfly is no joke! That is why you should try to swim your harder strokes for a few minutes at a time and then switch to freestyle after getting completely exhausted. As you get better and better, you will be able to swim your harder strokes for longer periods of time. 

2. Incorporate intervals.

HIIT intervals can help you burn more calories while swimming since a faster pace creates a more challenging workout. However, you probably won’t be able to keep up with that speed for your whole swimming workout simply because it is way too challenging, and the body has its limits. That is where introducing HIIT intervals comes in handy.

One of the ways to do it is swimming at a fast pace for thirty seconds, then taking a thirty-second break (or a full minute break if you feel like you need it), and then repeating the process. HIIT intervals will increase the number of calories burned and help you improve your performance while allowing you to maintain your form and high heart rate. 

3. Increase resistance. 

If you increase the resistance your body needs to fight, you will need to exert more energy to fight it, and therefore, you will burn more calories doing it. You cannot increase the resistance of the water, but you can increase resistance in the water by adding resistance bands, buoys, or flippers.

These items will make it more challenging for you to kick and stroke through the water, which will increase the resistance, and fighting the said increased resistance will increase your strength over time. 

4. Work out with a swim coach. 

Getting started is the hardest part of any journey, especially if you are a completely new swimmer and need help figuring out where to start and how to progress toward your goal. You might not even know what your goal is! If you are a beginner to anything, there is a huge chance that you will benefit from guidance and advice from someone more experienced and professional.

In this particular case, a swim coach can also help you create a swimming plan and incorporate breath exercises so that you can slowly build up your speed, your best time, and endurance, which can help you in your weight loss journey. 


Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding swimming as a weight loss tool, all answered. 

Q: How much do you have to swim to lose weight?

If you are a beginner looking to lose weight and use swimming as a weight-loss tool, the good news is that you don’t have to spend all of your waking hours in the pool! In the beginning, going three to four times per week for thirty to forty minutes will be the sweet spot you should aim for.

And if this seems like not enough, trust me, give it a go and then see! You will be so sore in places you didn’t even know muscles were. 

Q: Is diet important when swimming for weight loss? 

Whatever your preferred cardio exercise is, you need to pay close attention to your diet if weight loss is your ultimate goal. In order to lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you are eating, and all of the activities should be just a tool in your toolbox- a good and healthy diet will have to be the main star of the show for your weight loss to succeed.

Q: How many calories does swimming burn?

While swimming, a 140-pound adult burns 223 calories per hour if you are treading water at a moderate effort, 528 calories per hour for a medium speed, and 878 calories per hour for a butterfly stroke. 

If these numbers are hard to understand, let me give you some context: jogging burns 446 calories per hour, and cycling burns 477 calories per hour at moderate intensity. 

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