How Effective Is Swimming As A Cardio Exercise?

swimming cardio exercise


When doing cardiovascular workouts should you pick swimming over jogging and cycling? Research shows that the health benefits of swimming include those related to body weight, muscle strength, and blood health, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The water sport also provides other benefits including one of the ways to build strong joints. However, how does swimming stack up as a cardio exercise?

Here’s what you should know…

What Defines An Exercise As Cardio?

Simply put, cardiovascular or “aerobic” exercise increases the body’s heart rate. This is the main benefit even though other people use it for other purposes such as to boost endurance or lose weight.

In fact, you can reach your fat and weight loss goals by doing cardio until you reach your target heart rate. People often consider activities like swimming, walking, and rowing as cardio exercises.

However, household chores such as sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming could also be considered as such exercises since they increase a person’s heart rate.

Swimming Versus Jogging And Cycling

When doing cardio such as swimming, it’s important to take all safety precautions to reduce the risk of drowning. This is also true of running so you can prevent common running injuries.

This approach makes the exercise not only effective but also safe. Another consideration is whether one cardio exercise such as swimming is better or worse than others.

Swimming provides a full-body workout that doesn’t just improve lung and heart health. For example, it also increases muscle strength since it requires you to use every major muscle group of the body. It also can be a relaxing exercise that can reduce stress and calm the mind.

Swimming also provides benefits related to coordination, flexibility, and balance. It also burns more calories! Swimming vigorously for 30 minutes burns at least 300 calories in a 125-pound person as opposed to running at 5mph for 30 minutes only burns 240 calories, according to Harvard Health.

Improving Your Swimming without Swimming

After you start doing swimming as exercise, you can take some basic steps to get a better workout besides swimming itself.

  • You can improve your core strength to increase balance and posture in the water.
  • Meanwhile, weight training exercises like pull-ups and squats can activate compound muscles.
  • Next, use foam rolling and yoga to increase flexibility.
  • Finally, good nutrition and rest days can produce better swimming sessions.


Swimming is certainly one of the best cardio exercises you can do. It offers health benefits including those for the heart, muscles, and mind. Meanwhile, you can also avoid the drawbacks of other exercises like high-impact stair-climbing, jumping jacks, and burpees.

About Theresa Duncan

Originally from Detroit, MI, Theresa has been offering health and fitness advice for the last 30 years while working as an engineer. She decided to turn her passion into a profession, and finds nothing more satisfying than helping others reach their health and fitness goals.

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