Calories Burned Swimming Calculator

Calculate the calories you burn swimming given your body weight, intensity, and duration.

Calories Burned Swimming:

calories

Calories per Hour

calories/hour
Learn how we calculated this below

How to Calculate Calories Burned While Swimming

Swimming is an excellent activity that burns calories while also building strength and cardiovascular endurance at the same time.

Along with helping you maintain a healthy weight, swimming has numerous health benefits. Swimming laps in the pool has been found to help decrease cardiovascular risk factors and lower blood pressure. Plus, swimming improves aerobic endurance while also building muscular strength.[1]

On top of all this, swimming is a low impact activity, which means you can exercise without worrying about putting strain on your knee and hip joints.

You can get an estimate of the calories you burn from swimming by using a MET calculator. When you add your calories burned through exercise to your basal metabolic rate, you can determine how many calories you should consume each day to match your energy output.

The MET Value

To calculate calories burned during swimming, you first need to determine the MET value based on the effort of your swim. A MET, or metabolic equivalent of a task, is the energy burned during an activity that is expressed as a standardized number.

There is a MET value for nearly every type of physical activity. These numbers are a ratio of the metabolic rate during that specific exercise compared to the metabolic rate at rest. This is also defined as the amount of oxygen consumed while exercising compared to sitting at rest.

A resting metabolic rate is equivalent to the amount of oxygen you burn at rest. This is estimated to be about 3.5 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute.[2] As you exercise, you consume more oxygen. This means more intense activities have higher MET values.

METs are a simple way to estimate how many calories you burn during a number of different physical activities and exercises, including swimming. A complete list can be found in the Compendium of Physical Activities.[3]

Calories Burned Formula

Once you determine the effort of your swim, you can use the MET value to determine how many calories you burn based on the amount of time spent swimming at that pace.

calories burned = time [min] × (MET × 3.5) × weight [kg] / 200

MET Values for Various Swimming Intensities

From this table, you can see that when you increase your intensity and swim at a higher effort, more energy is expended, and therefore more calories are burned.

MET values for different swim intensities (from the Compendium of Physical Activities)
Swim Effort MET Value
Leisurely/Low Effort 4.8-6.0
Moderate Effort 6.0-8.0
Vigorous Effort 8.3-13.0

Since you can’t easily measure your swimming speed like you can while running or walking on a treadmill, you can use your perceived effort as a marker to determine the corresponding MET value.

In addition, different strokes tend to burn more calories than others, as is illustrated in the compendium. Studies in competitive swimmers have found more energy is used in strokes like breaststroke and butterfly compared to backstroke and freestyle.[4]

For example, if a 150-pound man is swimming at a leisurely effort for 30 minutes, he will burn:

calories burned = 30 min × (4.8 × 3.5) × 150 lbs ÷ 2.2 / 200
calories burned = 172 calories

If this same man swims at a more moderate effort for the same 30 minutes, he will burn:

calories burned = 30 min × (6.0 × 3.5) × 150 lbs ÷ 2.2 / 200
calories burned = 215 calories

Swimming: Another Activity to Burn Calories and Improve Health

Swimming is a full-body sport that improves cardiovascular health and builds strength, which in turn helps you burn more calories. In addition, swimming is a great activity to improve overall health.

In a recent 2021 study from BMC Sports Science, Medicine, and Rehabilitation, individuals who performed long-term swimming sessions showed improvement in multiple health and fitness markers, including “total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, blood pressure, body mass index, and body fat percentage“.[5]

Even if you are new to swimming, just getting in the pool and treading water or swimming leisurely for 20-30 minutes will get your heart pumping! With consistency, you’ll increase your endurance and strengthen your muscles, all of which can help you maintain a healthy weight.

References

1. Swim England’s Swimming and Health Commission, chaired by Professor Ian Cumming., Swimming for health and wellbeing: Executive Summary of the health and wellbeing benefits of swimming report, 2017, https://www.swimming.org/library/documents/2569/download
2. Jetté, M., Sidney, K., & Blümchen, G., Metabolic equivalents (METS) in exercise testing, exercise prescription, and evaluation of functional capacity, Clinical Cardiology, 1990, 13(8), 555–565. https://doi.org/10.1002/clc.4960130809
3. Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, Meckes N, Bassett Jr DR, Tudor-Locke C, Greer JL, Vezina J, Whitt-Glover MC, Leon AS, The Compendium of Physical Activities Tracking Guide, Healthy Lifestyles Research Center, College of Nursing & Health Innovation, Arizona State University, https://pacompendium.com/
4. Barbosa, T. M., Fernandes, R., Keskinen, K. L., Colašo, P., Cardoso, C., Silva, J., & Vilas-Boas, J. P., Evaluation of the energy expenditure in competitive swimming strokes, International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2006, 27(11), 894-899. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/153405751.pdf
5. Omar, J. S., Jaradat, N., Qadoumi, M., & Qadoumi, A. N., Regular swimming exercise improves metabolic syndrome risk factors: a quasi-experimental study, BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2021, 13(1), 1-7. https://bmcsportsscimedrehabil.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13102-021-00254-8