What Should Your Heart Beat Be while You Swim?

To give your body the best workout possible, it is important to keep your heart rate at an optimum level. Swimming is an excellent way to achieve that heart rate. Here we examine what that optimum level is and how you can best acheive it through swimming.

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic

While swimming, your heart rate should be in the “aerobic zone.” If you are a reasonably healthy person with goals of fat loss, cardiorespitory health and over all fitness, you’re going to want to keep your swimming heart rate at an aerobic level. ‘Aerobic’ means your body is using lots of oxygen to fuel its performance, involving your heart and lungs in the effort. Aerobic exercise first burns up the glycogen (carbs) in your body, and then accesses your fat stores for fuel. If you exercise harder, as in swim sprints, you might enter the anaerobic level of activity. This activity does not seek fat to fuel itself, needing the quicker energy that is stored as glycogen in your muscles. While all exercise burns calories, aerobic exercise burns fat stores more efficiently. This is why it is important to keep your heart rate in an aerobic zone.

Finding Your Right Heart Rate

To find the right heart rate zone for your aerobic activity, you need to use a little simple math. The simplest way is to subtract your age from the number 226 (220 for men). This is your maximum heart rate (mhr). The aerobic zone is 70-80 percent of this number. That equation looks like this:

Maximum Heart Rate (Female) = 193 – Age * 0.7 or 0.8

Keep in mind that this is a rough calculation. If you are obese, have heart problems or other special medical concerns, it is a good idea to get help from a doctor to determine your safest maximum heart rate.

Swimming Toward Success

Swimming is a highly desirable exercise. It allows you to lose weight, strengthen and shape muscles, and increase your heart and lung capacities. The trick is to find the right swimming stride to reap these benefits. Playing in the water, floating or water walking are all fun activities and reasonable exercises. However, they seldom count as full fledged aerobic activity, and won’t give you all the benefits you’re looking for. Conversely, sprints and racing might be raising your heart rate to the anaerobic zone. That means you get sore, strong muscle but not a lot of cardiorespitory benefits or weight loss. The key is to find a comfortable swim stroke or even three, that you can do for a sustained amount of time. To enjoy the full benefits of aerobic exercise, it should be performed for 30 to 40 minutes. Don’t be worried if you need to start slower and shorter. As your health and strength improves, you will be able to swim better for longer.

Although almost any exercise is better than none, your body does its best work at the aerobic level of activity. It is easy and even fun to reach this beneficial heart rate level while swimming. With a little forethought and determination, you can be sure your swim routine burns fat, strengthens your heart, and increases your metabolism.


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