Can swimming help me lose weight?
“Can swimming help me lose weight?” is one of the most popular questions we get these days.
It’s not surprising as lifestyle changes and the increasing number of people staying in apartments have made swimming the go-to work out.
Swimming at the comfort of your home – that is safe even when the sun goes down – is just one of the main reasons busy adults choose this exercise to lose weight.
Well just how much weight can you lose by swimming?
Further down in this article, we’ll do a simple calculation and give you the link to a calorie counter.
But first, let me make the case for swimming as a well-rounded workout for your body.
How can swimming help me lose weight?
Swimming has been described as one of the best exercises because it works out the whole body; our arms, legs and improves our cardiovascular system.
As long as we’re burning calories, we should be able to lose weight, although there are other lifestyle factors to consider such as our diet.
Let’s dive deeper to see how swimming gives us a work out.
It can be argued that because swimming is an exercise which involves floating, there isn’t much resistance to allow your muscles to work harder and burn calories.
In land exercises like walking or running, you will find that there is more work to drag your body along the route, in some cases will involve different gradients.
But don’t forget, water also creates resistance, and to move through it will help you burn lots of calories.
The plus point is that with the ‘buoyancy’ effect, it’s easier on your joints which means there’s less risk of injury compared to land exercises.
Have you noticed that most swimmers, if not all, are hungry after a swim? This can be put down to the cool temperatures of the water in the pool.
When the temperature of your body drops, you feel hungry and by eating you can restore your body temperature.
Although this may seem as counter beneficial as you may be putting on more weight by eating, you’ll actually be burning fat when your body expends more energy to warm yourself after a swim.
Studies have shown that people expend five times more energy when shivering than when they are resting. That’s why what you eat is important.
Professor Kay Cox from the University of Western Australia, who led a study in 2010 reckons that eating after a swim won’t be a problem if you are vigilant about what you’re feeding yourself, and not to overeat.
The other factor you should be mindful of when you’re thinking about shedding some weight by swimming is technique.
If you’re not swimming with the proper technique, especially in your breathing under water, you’re bound to get tired faster.
This is gonna prevent you from doing more laps and to burn more calories.
According to prevention.com, swimming at a moderate pace for 30 minutes burns 250 calories.
This means that a weekly swim of half an hour will see you lose a little more than a pound in a month.
A study involving middle-aged women showed that swimming over a period of twelve weeks showed that body fat reduced significantly.
How many calories can you burn?
If you want to know how many calories you can burn by swimming according to your age, duration and specific stroke, the use this calorie counter.
The amount of calories burnt may differ for different people, but here’s what an average count might be for the common 4 swimming strokes.
The front crawl, also known as the freestyle, can burn around 300 calories with 30 minutes of swimming.
It’s also the perfect stroke to work on toning your stomach and back muscles.
The breaststroke sheds off around 200 calories for a half hour work out in the pool.
But this particular stroke has all the muscles working including your triceps and hamstrings, for those wanting to shape up their thighs and lower legs.
The backstroke helps you burn around 250 calories in 30 minutes, but is great for your spine as you maintain the strength and direction to the end of the pool.
Your shoulders also get a great work out.
The butterfly is the best stroke to burn those calories, approximately 450 for 30 mins of swimming.
Not only that, it helps tone your abs, back, and triceps, while improving your posture.
When is the best time to swim?
Due to our busy workdays, many adults are too tired to get to a gym or can’t get to a park before the sun goes down.
That’s why a swim early morning before work, during the day or even late in the evening at a safe pool is a preferred option these days.
Having said that swimming before breakfast will force your body to burn up those fats in your body as your carbohydrates would have depleted overnight.
Also when you give your metabolism a boost at the start of the day, you’re likely to burn more calories throughout the day.
Anytime of the day is great for swimming, but early morning might be the best to lose weight.
Tips for beginners
If you’re a beginner, you may be stretching yourself when keeping up with seasoned swimmers who do lap after lap for long durations.
Start with a manageable time like 15 mins a day, and slowly increase until you’re comfortable with doing 30 mins a day. For best results to lose weight, hit the pool at least 4 or 5 times a week.
Alternate your swimming laps by doing one fast lap, followed by a slow to average speed. This will help build endurance and recovery time, so that your stroke will always be consistently good. Proper stroke technique is important if you want to lose weight or tone up muscles.
Kickboard or pool noodle
Using other floating devices can help you focus on certain areas of your body, especially if you want to tone up. For instance, use a kick board to help shape those legs. You can also use a pool noodle for water aerobics shown here.
Swimming is a workout that can help you lose weight by burning a lot of calories if you swim regularly.
If you are swimming with proper stroke technique, you will be able to do more laps consistently to increase your endurance.
Swimming is also a low-impact exercise, so even if you are overweight, you won’t injure yourself easily or need muscle recovery time to gather momentum.
However, it is important to note that other factors such as diet is also important to achieve your weight goals.
If you want to learn to swim or improve your stroke technique, check out our lessons for adults and children at ec swim.