We started out swimming just to get moving, but then (competitive couple that we are) started counting laps. First it was a sad 5, then 10, then I jumped to 20 last Friday and my goal by then end of this week is 25. It's just a little more deep breathing and pushing myself to swim a bit faster.
Now, I started wondering - since I was enjoying it so much - how much of a workout am I actually getting?
I found a user on caloriecount.about.com who gave this answer. According to fitnessgirl:
According to the Health Fitness Instructor Handbook, one of the reference manuals for the American College of Sports Medicine, the amount of calories burned during swimming depends "on the velocity of movement and the stroke being used, but it is also influenced by the skill of the swimmer. A skilled swimmer requires less energy to move through the water, so that person has to swim a greater distance than an unskilled person to achieve the same caloric expenditure."
The handbook says that for poor swimmers "the energy cost of simply treading water can be as high as 7.5 calories per kilogram of body weight per minute (Edit: Maybe they mean hour?). Elite swimmers use this same number of calories per minute to swim at 36 miles per minute (again: hour?) whereas an unskilled swimmer might require twice that energy expenditure to maintain the same velocity."
On the surface, it would seem to be more advantageous to have mediocre swimming skills to burn more calories but it backfires on you because you tire faster than you can rack up calories. In other words, you burn more calories when you are a novice swimmer but you cannot swim very long or very fast. The more skilled you become, the less calories you burn but you still burn more calories in the long run because you can swim longer and faster before you become fatigued.
If you are wondering why women burn less than men, the Fitness Leader's Handbook, another reference manual, says that because of women's "greater buoyancy associated with higher body fatness, women expend fewer calories per mile than men, independent of skill level". People with more fat have an easier time staying afloat. That in turn means fewer calories are burned. This is good news if you are a competitive swimmer so you can reserve your calories to fuel your speed and distance.
If you want even more of a caloric burn and a greater challenge to the upper body, try deep-water running. You will need a waist flotation device to keep you suspended in neck deep water. You will build more upper and lower body muscular endurance than land based running because the resistance of the water is all around you and I have a feeling from what you said about land running, you will enjoy deep-water running more! :)
How awesome is that?!
Then I went to fitday.com, found my level of swimming exercise, entered my weight etc. and found out how many calories I was burning an hour (which is about how long we swim). Depending on my rate of effort it's between 600 - 800 calories per hour! That's awesome!! Better than an hour on the elliptical any day of the week, and I'm not tired or sore afterwards. Maybe we should be doing this every night...?
Nah, let's not get crazy.
Now I know competitive swimmers can knock out 1-5 miles per hour without it fazing them (our goal is 1 mile in an hour...eventually), but I'm happy to go from couch potato non-exerciser to swimming 1/2+ mile 3 times a week (which sounds even better than 20 laps).
At our pool 35.5 laps = 1 mile approximately... Each lap being roughly 50 yards, I figure if I'm doing 25 laps this week, maybe 30 the following week or two and by mid June, 35.... that's pretty good. I don't know how fast I'll see loss on the scale, but my muscles already feel different and my breathing is getting back where it used to be.
Which is great for singing and projection - something I've had issues with in recent years.
So, this little fitness break is to encourage you to jump in the pool. Even lazily swimming burns more calories than you think - and it's never bad to do that, right?
Need more details, check out this site to find that, according to their sources:
You can burn 215-765 calories in 30 minutes of swimming.It depends on how much you weigh and if you’re swimming at a leisurely or moderate pace. Below is an estimate of how many calories you can burn swimming for 30 minutes.
Swimming (leisurely pace)
- If you weigh 150 lbs, you can burn approximately 215 calories in 30 minutes.
- If you weigh 200 lbs, you can burn approximately 285 calories in 30 minutes.
- If you weigh 250 lbs, you can burn approximately 360 calories in 30 minutes.
- If you weigh 300 lbs, you can burn approximately 430 calories in 30 minutes.
- If you weigh 350 lbs, you can burn approximately 500 calories in 30 minutes.
- If you weigh 400 lbs, you can burn approximately 575 calories in 30 minutes.
Swimming laps (moderate pace)
- If you weigh 150 lbs, you can burn approximately 285 calories in 30 minutes.
- If you weigh 200 lbs, you can burn approximately 380 calories in 30 minutes.
- If you weigh 250 lbs, you can burn approximately 475 calories in 30 minutes.
- If you weigh 300 lbs, you can burn approximately 570 calories in 30 minutes.
- If you weigh 350 lbs, you can burn approximately 670 calories in 30 minutes.
- If you weigh 400 lbs, you can burn approximately 765 calories in 30 minutes.
Go to Calories-Burned.FindTheData.Org and input swimming into the activity and see the live comparisons of data of various types of swimming per weight category.
It's a great way to relax and slim down... That's what I'm counting on at least.