Home swimming

How Many Calories Does Treading Water Burn?

Swimming and other water activities are among the most efficient ways to work out as they harness the weightlessness and resistance of the water to work out the body in ways gym sessions are not able to attain.

For water treading, a 10-minute workout for someone weighing 175 pounds will burn about 135 calories. That’s a very good amount of pounds to shed off for a workout routine that is basically floating in the same place with very minimal movements on your part.

You can opt for water treading as a full-time exercise as it’s way more effective than the conventional exercises. The fact that you don’t need special equipment and you can easily burn through hundreds of calories for a sustained period of time is a great addition to your exercise routine. Also, knowing how to tread water is quite easy compared to properly knowing how to swim or use gym equipment.

The Number of Calories Burned By Treading Water

The number of calories burned when treading water are as follows:

  120 Pounds 150 Pounds 200 Pounds 250 Pounds
5 Minutes 40 Calories 55 Calories 80 Calories 105 Calories
10 Minutes 80 Calories 110 Calories 160 Calories 210 Calories
20 minutes 160 Calories 220 Calories 320 Calories 420 Calories
30 Minutes 240 Calories 330 Calories 480 Calories 630 Calories
60 Minutes 480 Calories 660 Calories 960 Calories 1,260 Calories

These estimates are based on medical facts and were taken when the individuals were treading water at a high speed and with the same technique of treading. Individual figures can be different depending on the treading technique employed, the speed and other aspects.

Open water treading
A beautiful lady treading water

Factors Determining the Number of Calories Burned

Among the aspects that determine the number of calories you’ll burn when treading water include the following:

1. Body Weight

As seen in the comparison table above, your body weight determines the number of calories you’ll burn by a great extent. It is similar to other workouts as the larger the individual, the higher the calories burned given the same exercise for the same period of time.

With a larger body, you’ll need to exert more energy to keep to the same speed as an individual with less body weight. The result is that you’ll burn more calories under the same conditions.

2. Speed of Treading

Like all other exercises, the faster you go, the higher the number of calories you’ll burn within a given time. The same goes for water treading. While you’ll not sweat or go very fast due to the higher resistance of water, you’ll still exert your body more and will thus burn more calories.

Of note is that you need to be aware of the risk posed by poor water exercising. If you’ve not perfected how to carry out a certain treading routine, you shouldn’t push yourself too much as it’s very easy to injure yourself compared to exercises out of the water.

3. The Treading Technique Used

There are several treading techniques employing different motions and parts of the body. Similar to the most conventional swimming styles, each treading technique burns different amounts of calories.

The frog kick combined with sculling is one of the toughest when it comes to treading water and will thus burn the highest number of calories.

On the other hand, the eggbeater kick is the most efficient and will burn the least calories when used. Not that it’s a bad thing as treading was meant to save on energy and not primarily as an exercise routine.

4. Your Height

Being tall translates to more calories being burned as your hands and legs will go through longer motions and you’ll experience more resistance from the water than someone shorter.

Given the same period of time, the taller person will have to tread faster to attain the same number of hand or leg motions for example. They will thus burn more calories as a result of this.

Keep in mind that being taller also requires a bigger upthrust to keep the head above the water as it is typical with water treading. A higher upthrust means that you’ll need more treading power and thus more calories being burned.

5. Time Taken to Tread

The more time you spend in the water treading, the more calories you burn. While it may look like a simple exercise of floating around, water treading can actually be quite tedious especially when you’re pushing yourself to burn more calories.

As such, when you tread water for exercise, aim for periods of intense workouts for about 10 minutes then breaks of about 5 minutes in between. This way, you’ll not tire out and will still manage to continue without the need to leave the water.

6. The Water Temperature

The body naturally regulates its own temperature through the processes of thermoregulation to ensure you stay alive. With most swimming pools having a temperature of between 25 to 28°C (77-82°F), the body will need to constantly adjust to keep bodily processes intact.

Your body temperature is about 37°C. The body will thus have to generate heat as you’ll be losing it to the water about 4 times faster than you do to the air when out of water.

Heat generation is possible through burning calories. The higher the difference between the body temperature, the higher the number of calories burned.

These aspects dictate how many calories you can burn while treading water.

Tips to Burn More

From the determining factors above, you can burn more calories by doing the following:

1. Treading Faster

Treading water fast will see you burn more calories using the same technique. As stated before, increase the treading speed while taking frequent breaks for the best result. Ensure you’re going it safely.

2. Using a Tougher Technique

The most efficient treading technique is the eggbeater kick with the sculling of the hands. If you’re in to burn as many calories as possible, aim for the harder yet simpler techniques such as the frog kick with up and down motions of the hands.

3. Treading Longer

While still keeping a workout to 10 minutes at a time, increase the time such that you work out in more 10-minute sessions. Basically, if you were doing two sessions, do three and increase them as you become better with time.

4. Treading in Colder Water

With a higher temperature difference between the water and the body, your body burns more calories in an effort to generate heat and maintain the normal temperature of about 37°C. A temperature range above 10°C is all you need since having it too cold will only make it uncomfortable working out.

These aspects give you a better chance at burning calories when treading water.

Treading Water vs. Swimming Laps

For purposes of comparison, we shall use the freestyle swimming stroke and for an hour. The weight of the swimmer to be used is 150 pounds.

For these parameters, a swimmer will burn 204 calories while treading will burn 660 calories. These are measures taken when the treader and swimmer are at a moderate speed.

Further Reading

Following is a list of articles with more swimming information and other water sports

Swimming FAQs & Ideas

Swimming Strokes/Styles

Swimming Accessories

Pool Exercises

Other Water Sports