How To Lose Weight Swimming

When it comes to sustainable weight loss, eating healthy is only one part of the equation. Implementing exercise into your lifestyle can help you shed fat and strengthen your muscles.

If you're looking for an exercise for your workout regimen that's still fun to do, try swimming. Here's how to swim to lose weight. 

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How does swimming affect weight loss?

Swimming is known as one of the best workouts, suitable for people of any age and fitness level. Whether you're new to the world of fitness or an experienced athlete, swimming can help strengthen your heart, lungs, and muscles.

Swimming is also considered as both a strength training and cardio activity. For effective and sustainable weight loss, you'll want to incorporate both types of exercise into your workout regimen. Swimming not only increases your heart rate and burns calories, but the intense swim strokes through water resistance can help strengthen and tone muscles.¹

Swimming is also a full-body workout as it uses all your muscles to engage your core, arms, and legs as you complete each stroke and stay up in the water.

For someone who is 125 pounds, just 30 minutes of freestyle swimming can help you burn 330 calories. With regard to alternative strokes, a butterfly stroke can burn 330 calories, backstroke can burn 240, and breaststroke can burn 300.² The calorie output will also increase if you are heavier and if you increase the intensity of your swimming.

Let's compare this to other types of exercise. According to the American Council of Exercise, running for 30 minutes can burn approximately 342 calories for a 120-pound individual. At an average of 10 mph, cycling can burn approximately 165 calories for a 120-pound individual.³ Compared to other forms of exercise, swimming provides considerable calorie-burning benefits.

Other health benefits of swimming

It's low impact

Exercise is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. However, individuals who have joint conditions, including arthritis or from injury, can find it hard to exercise safely. Swimming is gentle on the joints yet provides enough resistance for an effective workout.

Improves sleep quality

While it's a common fact that exercise is linked to better sleep, swimming is incredibly therapeutic. Being in the pool encourages deep and slow breathing and free-floating movements.

Enhances mood and alleviates anxiety

Calm your mind and decrease anxiety with a swim in the pool. Researchers believe this mood alleviation results from improved breathing control in the pool, which forces swimmers to take deep breaths and fall into an almost meditative rhythm.⁴

Strengthens your heart and lungs

Swimming is a cardio exercise, which strengthens your heart so it can pump blood efficiently through your body. Most of the health benefits from swimming are due to the intense use of your heart and lungs, which helps to strengthen them over time.⁵

How to swim for the best results

When combined with a healthy, balanced diet, swimming consistently and with a routine should yield effective weight loss results. While there's no 'right' amount of time to spend in the pool, you'll want to spend around 60 minutes a day, four to six times a week, to see the best benefits.

It's also important to note that a constant swimming routine may take some time to warm up, especially if you're relatively new to intense exercise. During the initial few weeks, it might be a great idea to start by doing intervals. This means swimming at a high intensity for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of rest for 30 minutes at a time.

As your fitness improves, you'll be able to increase your swim time while reducing your resting time. You can then lengthen your total swim time from 30 minutes to 45 minutes and then 60 minutes without stopping.

If you're someone who already constantly exercises or is an experienced swimmer, then you'll have to elevate your heart rate and maintain a proper form for the best weight loss benefits.

While you can still utilize interval training, try intense swimming for two laps and then relaxed swimming for the third. You can repeat this until you reach 60 minutes, with small breaks between each set. To combat repetitiveness, try incorporating different swimming techniques, like backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.

However, keep in mind that exercise can also stimulate appetite. A study looked at participants who followed a swimming regimen and found that prolonged exposure to cold water temperatures stimulated appetite and caused weight gain.⁶ Keep this in mind and keep some healthy snacks in your bag post-workout, so you don't gain back all the calories you burned during your swim session. 

Tips to help you get started

Switch up your routine

Our bodies can adapt to stress on our muscles relatively fast. To build on your fitness and improve your strength over time, you'll want to challenge yourself continuously by working out different muscle groups. Try different swimming strokes, or change up your intervals throughout a session.

Take rest days

Even though swimming is a low-impact exercise, taking days off to rest is crucial for repairing and adapting your muscles.⁷ Regardless of your fitness level, it's a critical part of improving your muscle tone on your weight loss journey.

Eat enough calories

While you might be tempted to cut your calories significantly, eating enough means you'll have enough fuel to swim harder and stronger without feeling weak and fatigued. Eat lots of clean protein, fresh veggies and fruits, and whole grains. 

The lowdown

Swimming is an exercise that everyone can enjoy at every stage of their fitness journey. Apart from helping you lose weight, swimming also boasts numerous health benefits.

Incorporate a consistent swim routine into your lifestyle alongside a healthy diet, and you'll see weight loss results in no time.

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