Does Swimming With Flippers Burn More Calories?

Swim fins are used for snorkeling, diving and other types of swimming.
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Swimming is a good form of low-impact exercise, burning approximately 266 calories for every 30 minutes of swimming done by an individual weighing 185 pounds. You can burn more calories while swimming by increasing the intensity of your swim to work your muscles more. One way to accomplish this is through the use of flippers that add more resistance to the movement of your feet in the water.

Swimming With Flippers

Flippers change the mechanics of your swimming motions, requiring more use of the feet and legs than you would experience without them. While the arms are used as a primary means of propulsion with most swimming strokes, strokes that incorporate flippers use the displacement of water at the feet as a primary means of propulsion instead. While the arms are still used, the flippers displace a larger amount of water than the arms or hands do and can push you through the water at a faster pace than you would achieve otherwise.

Increased Resistance

Because flippers increase the amount of water that is displaced when you kick, your muscles encounter a greater amount of resistance with each kick. The amount of resistance encountered depends on the size and shape of the flippers used as well as the amount of force you put into each kick. The more surface area the broad side of each flipper has and the more force you put into your kicks, the more water will be displaced and the more resistance your muscles will encounter.


The different ways to use flippers while swimming all incorporate similar cycling techniques, which ensure that the broad edge of the flipper is only extended as you extend your legs behind you for propulsion. These techniques incorporate more movement into your swim, resulting in more muscle use. Flexing the ankles is a key part of proper flipper technique since you need to be able to flatten the flipper in relation to your body's orientation as you draw your legs up toward you. Without this increased movement, you will pull the flippers toward you with their broad sides encountering resistance from the water; depending on how hard you pull your legs, this may even cause you to go backward instead of forward while swimming.

Impact on Calorie Burn

The increased resistance provided by flippers and the increased muscle use that comes from flipper swimming techniques result in an increased intensity for your swimming workout. This increased intensity is what is responsible for any increase in calorie burn that you experience while using flippers. If you aren't putting much force into your kicks or are using minimal leg movements, then you won't experience a significant increase over what you would receive from a swimming workout without flippers. If you take advantage of the mechanics of swimming with flippers and work to increase your leg movements and resistance, however, you can experience a significant increase in calorie burn.

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