What Pool Exercise Burns the Most Calories?

For those who have access to a swim spa and are looking to lose weight, trying to figure out the most effective exercises can be a bit of a trial and error game. It’s well known that swimming and other underwater exercises are great for those with joint problems and balance issues. An added bonus is that exercises done in the water typically burn many more calories than similar movements done on dry land. In fact, some of the competitive swimming strokes can burn more calories than jogging or taking a spin class. So, what pool exercise burns the most calories? In this article we’ll go over some typical exercises and swimming strokes to see which you should concentrate on if you’re looking to lose weight fast.

Dry Land Jogging

Jogging on a treadmill, around a track or outdoors is one of the most common exercises for those who are looking to lose weight. Although it’s easier for those who have healthy, young knees and bones, it’s still one of the best exercises for increasing your heart rate and burning off calories. For this reason, we’ll use it as a benchmark from which we can compare other exercises that take place in the water. Jogging for a half hour at 5 miles per hour (8 km/h,) which is equivalent to jogging a mile (about 1600 metres) in 12 minutes, will burn almost 300 calories off a 155-pound person.


The breaststroke is one of the simplest swimming strokes to learn as it’s quite an easy stroke to perform without creating undue stress. For that reason, the number of calories that are burned aren’t going to top this list. But the breaststroke is one of the better strokes for cardiovascular fitness while also toning the chest muscles, thighs, upper back and triceps. If you perform the breaststroke for a half hour, you can expect to burn somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 calories.


The backstroke has more of a learning curve than most of the other types of swimming strokes, especially when it comes to turning around. That said, you won’t have to worry about that when exercising in a swim spa. The backstroke will help strengthen your stomach muscles while also toning your arms, shoulders, legs and butt. If you perform the backstroke for 30 minutes you can expect to burn about 250 calories.

Front Crawl

The front crawl, also known as freestyle in competitive swimming, is the fastest of all the strokes. It’s also probably the first swimming stroke you learned after the dog paddle. The front crawl is best for strengthening and toning the back muscles. This is very noticeable amongst swimmers and surfers. It also helps tone the shoulders, stomach and butt. By performing a half hour of the front crawl, you can expect to burn about 300 calories.


The butterfly is the toughest stroke to learn and requires a lot of upper body strength to do it properly. Because of its difficulty, it’s usually the last swimming stroke to be learned. Its performance, however, gives the best all round body workout of all the strokes while toning the back, chest, arms and stomach. A half hour of the butterfly can burn 400 calories or more.

Underwater Jogging

Surprisingly enough, the underwater exercise that burns the most calories isn’t a swimming stroke at all. The combination of the resistance of waist-high water coupled with the full use of the leg muscles makes underwater jogging one of the biggest calories burning exercises of them all. A half hour of jogging in water can burn over 500 calories.

To learn more about swim spas and their ability to help you lose weight, download a free buyer’s guide below today, or visit us at our pool store.

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