Is Swimming A Good Exercise To Lose Weight?

The answer to the question if swimming is a good exercise to lose weight is yes, but it is not the best exercise to lose weight by any stretch.

Before we jump into why swimming is not the best exercise or workout for your fitness goals (unless you want to be a swimmer).

  • Lets briefly discuss why swimming is good for you, so you don’t get the wrong idea about swimming or the benefits of swimming.

synchronized swimming

Benefits Of Swimming

Here are some basic benefits of swimming, so you know how swimming will benefit you in case you do decide to make this your primary workout to lose weight, or get in shape in general.

Swimming Is Good Because It’s Relaxing And Water Is Relaxing

There are many studies that found swimming to have many positive effects on the brain.

  • Water is calming, and that helps individuals in many ways, the major being a stress reducer. When stress is reduced, your body functions better in general.

sleeping on water

Swimming Is Low Impact

“This is great if your main concern is to preserve your joints. If you are older, that is a different story and a good choice. Low impact motion and workouts will save you from injury down the road, and produce longevity.”

Swimming Builds Strength And Cardio At The Same Time

This is true. Swimming will work your muscles and cardiovascular fitness at the same time, since it takes the effort of your entire body to swim.

belly flop

Now Lets Discuss Why Swimming Is NOT THE BEST EXERCISE

The same reasons why swimming is good for you, are the same reasons that swimming is not the best exercise if you are trying to build muscle mass and lose fat.

Swimming For Exercise And Toning

For general exercise, swimming is good, and it is good for toning.

However, swimming is low impact and does not target the muscle groups like weight training does. Swimming will burn calories for sure, but nowhere near as much as high intensity interval training would.

Most people do not want to do anything that is high intensity, because it’s hard, so they do look for alternatives like swimming.

swimming funny

Swimming For Building Muscle

The most used muscle groups in swimming are your shoulders, your core, and your gluts as well.

In order to build muscle, you need some serious resistance training that will tear down your muscle, and swimming does not do that.

  • You can develop some strong shoulders, and burn some fat, but this will only come if you become dedicated on a daily basis, where you are swimming very intensely about 5 times a week, like someone that is training for a contest.


This is another reason why swimming is not the best exercise for building muscle or for losing weight and toning.

Let’s look at how many calories swimming burns compared to other exercises.

  • A 130-pound person swimming freestyle for one hour will burn 590 calories swimming fast, and 413 calories swimming slower.
  • A 155-pound person swimming freestyle for one hour will burn 704 calories swimming fast, and 493 calories swimming slower.
  • A 180-pound person swimming freestyle for one hour will burn 817 calories swimming fast, and 572 calories swimming slower.
  • A 205-pound person swimming freestyle for one hour will burn 931 calories swimming fast, and 651 calories swimming slower.

swimming calories

The results will be different based on your weight of course.

This also takes into consideration that you must swim fast for an hour, which is impossible for many normal people to do, even people that are in amazing shape. Let’s see how this compares to running.


“The most intense running exercise burns 1,553 calories per hour in a 190-pound person, but the most intense swimming exercise burns 949 calories per hour in the same person, according to a study by the state of Wisconsin.”

workouts for women


Weight lifting is by far a better overall exercise, especially if you have short rest periods in order to increase your heart rate.

  • Weight training also increases much more muscle mass, and that in the long run burns more fat as well.

There is no comparison which of the two is a better exercise, but please consider that if you chose to weight train, you should be doing full body workouts frequently to work all muscle groups, and not just focusing on one.


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