Swimming VS. Running: How to Decide Which is Better For You

Swimming and running are both great forms of cardiovascular activity. They are both effective ways of burning calories and boosting your cardiovascular health. So how do you know which one is the better option for you?

The Basics

The first place to start is the basics. Knowing which exercise does what will help you in determining whether swimming or running is the better option for you and your goals.

Swimming is a relatively low-impact form of exercise. It burns calories, boosts your heart rate, and strengthens and tones your upper and lower body muscles.

Running on the other hand is a higher-impact workout. It burns calories, tones your lower body, and even prevents bone loss.

If you’re still unsure about which one is a better fit for you, it's a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons of each.

Advantages of Swimming

  • Less impact on your joints
  • Safer way to exercise if you’re recovering from an injury
  • Freedom to change strokes to workout different muscle groups
  • Full-body workout.

Disadvantages of Swimming 

  • Requires access to a pool or large body of water
  • Doesn’t burn as many calories as running (depending upon pace and intensity).

Advantages of Running 

  • Burns through calories at a very high rate
  • Weight-bearing exercise (working against gravity)
  • More freedom to run when/where you want.

Disadvantages of Running

  • Not always suitable for those recovery from injuries
  • High-impact on joints and bones
  • Doesn’t exercise the entire body.

What it comes down to at the end of the day is the kind of workout you’re after. If you want a less intense workout that will tone and strengthen your entire body, opt for swimming. If you want a higher-impact workout that will burn lots of calories, opt for running.

There is also the option to do both! You should, however, consider a number of things such as whether you have access to a pool or a body of water, if you have any limiting injuries or joint pain, and if bone health is a priority for you.

Either way, don’t forget your iPod!