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Swimming Vs. Biking for Weight Loss

author image Hazel Mollison
Hazel Mollison has more than five years of experience writing for national and regional newspapers. Before moving to Washington, D.C., she was a reporter for the "Edinburgh Evening News" and "Scotland on Sunday." Mollison holds an M.A. in Italian and German from Cambridge University, as well as a postgraduate diploma in journalism from Cardiff University.
Swimming Vs. Biking for Weight Loss
Regular exercise, such as swimming, can help you lose weight. Photo Credit Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. Aerobic exercise, such as swimming or biking, combined with a healthful diet, can help you reach your goals. The number of calories burned per hour depends on your weight, the activity and your exercise intensity. Because swimming is a low-impact workout that uses your full body, some people find they can burn more calories this way. But it's more important to choose an activity you enjoy that fits into your daily routine.

Calories Burned Per Hour

According to sports coach Brian Mac, you can roughly calculate the number of calories burned per hour by considering your weight and speed. If you weigh 150 pounds, cycling at 5.6 mph will burn around 240 calories per hour. At 9.9 mph, you'll burn about 440 calories, and at 13 mph, 640 calories. If you're swimming, you'll use 330 calories at 0.9 mph, 480 at 1.5 mph, and 690 at 1.8 mph. If you weigh less, subtract 10 percent for every 15 pounds. Add 10 percent for each additional 15 pounds.

Choosing An Activity

Your exercise routine will depend on your health, fitness level and personal preference. Swimming reduces stress on weight-bearing joints, bones and muscles. It's unlikely to result in injury, and is a good choice if you have arthritis, are pregnant or new to exercise. Cycling at a moderate pace can also be a relatively low-impact exercise, although you can injure yourself if your bike is the wrong size. If you want a vigorous workout, try indoor group cycling, although this might be too strenuous for beginners. Cycling to work is a good way to fit exercise into your daily life.

Exercise For Weight Loss

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, but you might want to exercise more to lose weight. You need to burn around 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of weight. The Cleveland Clinic advises exercising at between 60 percent and 80 percent of your maximum heart rate to burn fat, although you might want to gradually build up to this level. You also need to moderate your food intake and eat a healthful diet.

Other Considerations

If you have a heart condition, high cholesterol, are obese or have other health problems, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine. As well as helping you lose weight, regular swimming or biking will help you build muscles and improve your cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness.

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