Riding a stationary bike provides a way to burn calories quickly.

Does Stationary Biking or Swimming Burn More Calories?

by William McCoy

If you're eager to lose a few pounds before you hit the beach on your upcoming Caribbean vacation, set your trip planning aside for a moment and focus on exercises that burn calories rapidly. Riding a stationary bike and swimming are effective, low-impact ways to burn hundreds of calories in a single workout to help you develop a slimmer body.

Stationary Biking Calories Burned

The faster the pace you're able to maintain while pedaling a stationary bike, the more calories you'll burn during your workout. Harvard Medical School reports a 155-pound person can burn, on average, 260 calories during a 30-minute, moderate-intensity workout. The same person can burn 391 calories during a vigorous-intensity workout that lasts 30 minutes.

Swimming Calories Burned

The calories you can expect to burn after diving into the swimming pool depend entirely on how you choose to swim. Light swimming won't burn calories at nearly the same rate as up-tempo laps, for example. According to Harvard Medical School, a 155-pound person who swims for 30 minutes can burn 298 calories swimming the backstroke, 372 calories swimming the breaststroke and 409 calories swimming the front crawl or butterfly. Even if you choose to tread water instead of swim laps, you'll burn about 372 calories in 30 minutes.


It's impossible to say whether riding a stationary bike or swimming is a more effective way to burn calories because the calories you'll burn depend on your approach to the exercise. If you can maintain a vigorous pace on the stationary bike, you'll burn more calories than a moderate-paced swim. If you're comfortable swimming the front crawl or butterfly, either swim stroke burns calories faster than vigorously pedaling an exercise bike.

Aerobic Exercise Benefits

Because stationary biking and swimming burn calories at a comparable rate, consider including both exercises in your weight-loss workout and encouraging your family members to join you as a method of keeping active. Each exercise provides an aerobic workout that won't cause pain to your lower-body joints. Better Health Channel notes cycling can decrease your stress, boost your cardiovascular health, strengthen your bones and build muscle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swimming can help lessen the symptoms of chronic medical conditions and improve your mental well-being.

About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

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