Can you get fit just by swimming? Swimming is my favorite way of staying fit, but getting fit by swimming alone isn’t always easy. It’s good for your heart, muscle building and fat loss, but it’s not weight bearing and that does have an impact on the results you’ll get. Today I share my experiences of getting fit through swimming and other means. I’ll look at the benefits and disadvantages of swimming as your only way to stay fit, and help you to decide what your best approach to fitness is going to be. Everyone’s fitness goals differ slightly, and their starting levels will vary too, but if you can swim and have regular access to a pool, lake or the ocean, then swimming could be the key to success.
- Can you get fit just by swimming?
- How many calories can you burn swimming?
- Fitness advantages of swimming
- Downsides of swimming to get fit
- Swimmers bodies vs gym bodies
- Does swimming reduce belly fat?
- Can you stay fit just by swimming?
If you love to swim, you will be eager to learn if swimming alone is enough to keep you fit. You may even be hoping it will help you live longer! And if you aren’t as keen to dive into swimming as your main exercise form, you may be hopeful you can balance out swimming laps with other activities you enjoy more.
Can You Get Fit Just By Swimming?
Is it possible to get fit just by swimming? The answer is “it depends.” The truth is that all forms of exercise have health benefits. So your personal goals will always determine your personal fitness regimen. This includes swimming frequency, intensity, duration and other key factors to help you achieve your goals.
So let’s take a closer look at the main advantages and disadvantages of swimming to get fit, get toned, lose weight, feel healthier and all that good stuff.
How Many Calories Can You Burn By Swimming?
One of the major advantages of swimming to get fit is that swimming ranks right up at the top as an all-over calorie burner. Depending on what you weigh, you can burn anywhere from 180 to 256 calories for just 30 minutes of sustained swimming.
And if you swim laps at high intensity, you can burn anywhere from 300 to 420 calories in a single half hour of swimming. This easily explains why swimming is such a popular choice for overall fitness and weight loss!
Advantages of Swimming To Get Fit
Burning calories is not the only reason to consider adding swimming to your fitness regimen. We also want to learn whether swimming alone is enough to keep you fit without doing any other forms of exercise. (Remember, your personal fitness goals drive which forms of exercise are the best fit for you.) These are the main advantages of choosing swimming to get fit.
- Increased lung capacity
- Heart health
- Good joints
- Building strength
Swimming boosts lung capacity
Research shows that swimming is an effective means to improve your lung capacity and oxygen uptake to your cells. In this pandemic age, there is no fitness goal more urgent than strengthening the lungs.
Swimming is heart healthy
There is ample research evidence to support the heart health benefits of swimming, even for people who have well-maintained cardiac conditions (with their physician’s approval, of course).
In fact, swimming supports the entire cardiovascular system. And swimming also delivers other well-documented stress reduction benefits.
Swimming supports joint health
Swimming is considered an excellent exercise choice if you are recovering from injury or surgery or have known joint issues. This is because swimming is a low-impact sport. You can exercise to relatively high intensity in the water without any undue risk of stressing your joints.
Swimming is an effective way to build strength
Many people don’t realize just how many different types of exercises you can do in the water. In addition to swimming laps and diving, you can use all kinds of props to build strength in different areas of the body and target different muscle groups.
This makes swimming an effective way to build strength in targeted areas of the body and/or all over the body.
Disadvantages of Swimming To Get Fit
Swimming sounds so ideal, it is hard to imagine there could be any disadvantages of swimming to get fit. But here again, it is vital to compare your goals with what swimming can offer before deciding that swimming alone will give you sufficient exercise.
- There are more heart healthy sports
- Injuries are possible
- There are better sports for bone health
Swimming may not be the number one most heart healthy sport
New research is now highlighting some subtle but important differences in heart function between swimming and dry land endurance sports such as running.While more studies are needed, the complementary benefits of adding in other endurance sports may offer additional heart health benefits you won’t want to pass up.
Swimming is not an injury-free sport
While it is true that swimming is low impact and can be joint-protective, swimmers get injured too. For instance, if you’ve ever been through a bout of “swimmers shoulder” you know all too well it is possible to overdo on swimming just like you could with any sport.
By varying your exercise and activities, you give yourself a better chance to avoid these types of repetitive overuse injuries.
Swimming is not the best way to support overall bone health
If you want to build stronger, denser bones, swimming is one way to do it. But research currently indicates that weight-bearing exercises like running, pilates or aerobics may offer a faster route to achieve this goal.
Swimmers Body Vs Gym Body
One of the best ways to get a good visual of the differences between swimmers body vs gym body is to watch professional athletes compete.
Swimmers typically have a long, lean, smooth appearance to their body. Yes, they have muscle tone, but their six-pack is not going to look as rigid and defined to the casual observer. In contrast, weight lifters and gym aficionados often sport a more taut and toned appearance with sharply defined or even exaggerated muscles and muscle groups.
Does Swimming Reduce Belly Fat?
Swimming is primarily a form of aerobic or cardiovascular exercise, which is the ideal choice for reducing fat. So yes, swimming can definitely reduce belly fat.
But it is important to remember that swimming laps is not going to specifically target the fat around your belly area. Rather, swimming will burn excess fat anywhere on your body as long as you stay in the fat burning zone required to achieve your weight loss goals.
Is Swimming Enough To Stay Fit?
Now you have a better overall picture of how swimming helps you to stay fit, lose weight, get toned and feel stronger and healthier.
What do you think? Based on your health and fitness goals, is swimming alone enough exercise for you? Or do you need to add in other activities as well? Share your insights in the comments.
Learn More About Swimming For Fitness
- Swimming vs lifting weights
- Is swimming enough exercise?
- Post swim recovery tips
- Does swimming get boring?
- Why am I tired after swimming?
- Cold water swimming
- Ferrari et al. “Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights.” Harvard Medical School, 2021.
- Lazovic-Popovic et al. “Superior lung capacity in swimmers: Some questions, more answers!” ScienceDirect, 2016.
- Riding, N. “The Swimmer’s Heart.” Aspetar Sports Medicine Journal, 2022.
- Currie et al. “Left Ventricular Structure and Function in Elite Swimmers and Runners.” Frontiers in Physiology, 2018.
- Su et al. “Swimming as Treatment for Osteoporosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” BioMed Research International, 2021.