Some people use “treading water” as a metaphor for staying in one place, not making much progress.
But here at the PJCC, our Aquatics team sees “treading water” quite differently! Below, our Aquatics Manager Gina Livingston lists her top three reasons for incorporating this seemingly simple—but still important—skill into your swim regimen.
1. It’s a great way to burn calories. Based on guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine, treading water at a moderate pace can burn anywhere from 3.5 to 7 kcal per minute; treading vigorously burns more than 7 kcal per minute. Although the actual rate of burning calories will differ from person to person, you can see that treading water is true, healthy work! (Review the General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Intensity.)
2. Like most aquatic activities, it’s a low-impact form of exercise. And it’s a perfect opportunity to get a full-body workout! You can experiment with a variety of kicks—flutter kicks, scissor kicks, the rotary (or “eggbeater”) kick—while you engage your core and increase your feel for the water through sculling, an efficient technique for hand and arm movement that can improve your overall swim practice.
3. Treading water is an important safety skill. The American Red Cross lists treading water among its top five skills for water safety. They recommend being able to tread for one minute. If you’re entering a triathlon, treading water also plays a major role in your ability to stay the course with endurance.
Ready to get started? If you’re new to this practice, we recommend beginning in the shallow end of the pool and gradually building up your stamina. If you’re already competent, why not challenge yourself and see how long you can tread? Either way, you’re laying the foundation for a stronger, safer experience in the water.