Swimming Energy Expenditure

The National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (2002) indicated that 61.3% of the population, aged 16 years or older, participates in some form of swimming activity. Given the participation numbers and popularity of swimming as a fitness and training activity, there is a need for an accurate, inexpensive method to quantify energy expended while swimming.

Current methods include the following: physical activity log, doubly labeled water, measurement of oxygen consumption while swimming, and published regression equations. Each of these methods has limitations, advantages, and disadvantages. More importantly, there are no available methods to economically, unobtrusively and accurately measure swimming energy expenditure in a free-living situation.

The Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming, under the direction of Dr. Joel Stager, is currently investigating the use of an accelerometer (worn on the wrist, waist, or leg that quantifies movement of the limbs) to estimate energy expended while swimming throughout the course of a swim season. It will be exciting to see the results of their experiment.We’ll keep you posted.

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