Health benefits of swimming
1. Swimming can help to improve bone mineral density
Although weight-bearing training has been established to be beneficial for improving bone mineral density, swimming for 3 hours or more every week has also been found to help.
A review of studies found that 3 to 6 hours of swimming every week improved bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. There was however no improvement in bone mineral density in premenopausal women who swam less than 3 hours every week.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE DOI: 10.1155/2020/6210201
2. Swimming can help to manage type 2 diabetes
A study has found that 16 weeks of swimming led to significant reductions in BMI, arterial blood pressure, lipid profiles, blood glucose levels, and body fat percent for individuals with type 2 diabetes.2✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE DOI: 10.1186/s13102-021-00254-8
Twenty men and twenty women between the ages of 52 and 58 years who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were included in the study.
The participants were divided into 2 groups, a control and an experimental group that were assigned to 120 minute swimming sessions 3 times a week for 16 weeks. The swimming intensity was moderate and didn’t require high effort. The control group did not participate in any exercise.
The results of the study suggest that regular swimming sessions could be considered a non-pharmacological approach in managing type 2 diabetes.
3. Swimming can help to improve brain function
In a small study involving only 18 participants, it was found that cognitive performance improved after 20 minutes of moderate-intensity swimming. The participants responded faster on cognitive tests and processed visual information immediately after their swim.3✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE DOI: 10.14814/phy2.14247
4. Swimming can help in managing blood pressure
In a study involving 100 postmenopausal women with stage 2 hypertension approximately 74 years of age, the researchers randomly assigned the participants to either swimming or a control group that did no exercise for 20 weeks. The swimming group participants trained 3 to 4 days each week.4✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001288
Swimming resulted in blood pressure and arterial stiffness reductions, while increasing aerobic capacity and strength. The researchers concluded that swimming could be effective for preventing and treating age-related vascular complications and declines in cardiorespiratory capacity and muscle strength.
5. Swimming can help to burn calories
Swimming is effective for burning calories. A 160-pound individual can burn about 423 calories in 60 minutes while swimming at a low or moderate intensity. That same individual could burn as many as 715 calories in 60 minutes swimming at a more vigorous intensity.
That same 160-pound individual would burn only about 314 calories walking at 3.5 mph for an hour. Yoga burns only about 183 calories in 60 minutes. And the elliptical trainer could burn only 365 calories in that 60 minutes.
Swimming is not only an extremely effective way to burn calories, it’s far more gentle on the body compared to other activities, and can be an option even when suffering from injury.
How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn?
To figure out how many calories burned swimming, a unit called a MET (metabolic equivalent of task) is used for the estimation of amount of energy expended while engaging in physical activity. This unit measures how hard the body is working relative to rest. When the body is at rest, the rate of energy output is 1 MET, which is equivalent to 1 calorie/kg of bodyweight per hour.
The MET values for various physical activities come from reliable sources and have been published in the compendium of physical activities. The calories burned from swimming are calculated with the MET value of the swimming intensity and your body weight.
The calorie calculator for swimming below lists 15 different swimming activities of varying intensities.