Swimming not only gets you in shape, but it keeps you in shape as well! It’s an intensive workout that’s easy on your joints. It offers physical and emotional benefits and there are four different strokes to try out. There’s the freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly stroke and backstroke. All strokes have drawbacks, but one of them burns the most calories. 

Before we get into discussing the most effective stroke, let’s talk about calories and how we burn them!

What is a Calorie?

A calorie is a unit of measurement for energy. Usually we associate calories with food and drink. However, not everyone knows that anything that contains energy has calories. They are essential to our health and consuming the right amount is key. Factors such as age, sex, size and activity level come into play here.

Calories are not the only thing that determines whether a food is healthy or not. However, each of us should have a proper intake each day. This varies from person to person. According to the Mayo Clinic, one should aim to cut 500 calories from their diet per day to lose 1 pound a week. This can be done by switching out high calorie foods for lower calorie options. For example, instead of eating two slices of pizza, have one slice with a cup of fruit. 


How is a Calorie Burned?

You can burn calories both directly and indirectly. Direct measurement requires monitoring of heat released by the body. Indirect measurement requires monitoring ventilation and the change in oxygen and carbon dioxide by the body. Indirect measurement is the most accurate way of measuring how many calories are burned during exercise.

Your heart rate increases when you need more oxygen. You burn more calories when you burn more oxygen. Exercises that increase heart rate, use more muscle and increase oxygen consumption burn more calories. The big impact that comes from swimming is increasing lung capacity and using almost all of the body’s muscles. Burning calories by swimming promotes weight loss and builds muscle.


How Many Calories Need to be Burned to Lose One Pound?

You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound! Calories burned swimming are influenced by body weight, intensity of exercise, conditioning level and metabolism. Your age, gender and height as well as the activity you’ve performed can determine how many calories you burn.

Consult your doctor if you have concerns about your weight or health. Calorie calculators estimate the energy expenditure. Everyone’s body is different and how we burn calories varies. Remember that achieving healthy weight loss requires exercise and a healthy balanced diet.

So, Which of the Main Four Competitive Swimming Strokes Burns the Most Calories?

The butterfly stroke burns the most calories per hour. It burns 774 calories for someone who is 155 pounds. It’s the hardest stroke to swim and it is the most difficult to learn. Having the proper technique is important before trying it out.

Get your workout on by using a variety of body’s muscles. It requires upper body strength as well as strong legs. Propel yourself forward by pushing your arms outwards and kicking your feet in and out of the water like a dolphin. A professional coach or instructor can help you hone your technique. 

For newer or average swimmers, the breaststroke is the best way to burn calories. It burns 704 calories per hour and is easier to do for longer periods of time. The freestyle burns the same amount in an hour. The breaststroke’s technique isn’t hard to learn, which is probably why most people learn it first.

The breast stroke is the slowest stroke, but swimming faster increases the amount of calories you burn. Although, you may get tired quicker!

Breaststroke Benefits

Burning more calories means burning more oxygen which increases your heart rate. Increased resistance coupled with makes this stroke ideal for burning calories. 

Increased Resistance

The breaststroke requires you push your way through the water. You face the water straight on and your chest meets the water’s resistance. Kicking your legs to propel you forward, the breaststroke uses the leg muscles and is a slow, but effective calorie burner.

Pushing through the water’s resistance is the best way to burn calories. Having the proper technique will help you do this. Moving the arms in and out in a sweeping motion and kicking your legs outwards like a frog are key here. Following the proper steps will give you a better workout and prevent injury. 

Heart and Lung Health

Swimming is great for your cardiovascular and respiratory health. It’s a long distance swimming stroke and that makes it different from other strokes in comparison. The long distance breaststroke swimming improves heart health and expands lung capacity.

Swimming helps your heart in more ways than one.  On average, humans have a resting heart of 60-70, but athletes can have one closer to 40-60. Swimming strengthens your heart which allows each beat to pump more blood through the body. This lowers your risk of heart disease.

Your lungs become stronger from swimming too. This is because when you move your face in and out of the water, you build endurance. In turn, you are able to hold your breath longer as the lungs become accustomed to breathing with a sense of rhythm. 


In the End, Find What Works for You

One stroke will not work for everyone. The best one to lose weight is the one you are best at. Swimming properly rather than trying to stay afloat will let you work out longer. The reason that the number of calories burned varies from stroke to stroke is the mechanics behind each movement.

Make sure to mix it up every once in a while. Doing the same stroke can get tiring and boring. Try out other exercises in the pool to refresh your workout!