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Swimming vs Running

Want to know the difference between swimming vs running and which is better for exercise? Read on to learn more!

Published: 12/14/18

Both are stellar forms of cardiovascular exercise, but which is better, swimming or running? While we operate under the notion that any physical activity that you can complete on a consistent basis that does not injure you is best, there are clear health benefits to both swimming and running. But, which aerobic exercise gives you the most bang for your caloric buck? We want to dive in (Get it? “Dive” in) to give you the low-down on swimming vs. running.


It is important to build strength as you age. By the time you reach your 30s, your muscle mass starts to decline rather than build. So, adding strength training to your workout schedule through lifting, bodyweight workouts, and even group exercise classes are a great way to ensure that you keep your body healthy and strong as you enter into your golden years. Another way, believe it or not, is to swim. The resistance from the water makes swimming a no-brainer for a low-impact aerobic exercise and full body workout that will help you tone several muscle groups at once, lower body and upper. Water can be up to 800 times more resistant than air, making it more impactful for strength building. While running requires you to move your arms as well, there is virtually no resistance, so its effectiveness for an upper body workout is minimal. Both swimming and running increase your heart rate, but it takes more cardiovascular effort to swim two miles than it does to run for two miles. However, most non-professional athletes would have a tough time even attempting a swim at that length. 

Swimming vs Running For Weight Loss

When it comes to burning calories, running on a treadmill at 7 mph for one hour will torch about 700 calories depending on your gender and weight, whereas swimming at 50 meters per minute will torch about 550. Since these are relatively similar calorie burn numbers, you will be able to lose weight with either workout successfully. However, new swimmers can often find themselves wading in the water rather than actually working out. So, take a swimming lesson and have someone help you with your form and teach you various strokes, such as breaststroke or freestyle stroke, to switch up your swimming workout in order to make the most out of your pool time. It is harder to dilly dally on the treadmill or a jog because the machine will keep moving, and if you run from your house, you will, more than likely, need to run back.


Making sure that your body has enough oxygen during a workout is essential, no matter the intensity. Whether you are practicing yoga, working on your strength, running, or swimming, it is equally important to focus on your breathing. However, running requires you to breathe at a specific pace. Make sure that you have enough oxygen consistently going through your body so that you do not run out of breath and can make it that next ¼ mile. For swimmers, the way you breathe, and the length of your breath can be the difference between a win or loss in terms of a race. So, successful swimmers work very hard to have short, impactful breaths. Because of this, swimmers tend to get less oxygen during their exercise than runners, and therefore tend to be more exhausted at the end of a workout than a seasoned runner.


Humans were not created to travel at their max speed under water, so runners generally cover three times the distance or more as a swimmer in the same amount of time simply because of the difference in resistance. So, if you are looking to cover more square miles, running may be the right choice for you.


There are tons of fun workouts to do on the treadmill, on the pavement, and in the pool. So we would call this category a tie. The possibilities for your running and swimming workouts are endless on both sides. For some fun, calorie-burning running ideas, try one of our team training workouts where you will sprint, jog, run on inclines, and push yourself to your cardiovascular limits. For swimming, join a group exercise class or look up some videos online. With so many different strokes, you can always make your swimming workout new and fresh.


Running is a high-impact sport, meaning that every step you take causes stress and strain on your joints and muscles. Many runners suffer from shin splints and issues with their knees and ankles over time, but when you are swimming, you are almost entirely weightless, meaning that the impact your swimming exercise has on your joints and muscles is minimal. One of the many benefits of swimming is that you can start swimming as a baby and continue to swim well into your retirement and senior years! As for other exercises, you do not see many babies or centenarians sprinting on the treadmill. If you run, be sure to invest in a good running shoe to reduce your risk of injury, and tie those puppies tight (but not too tight)!

Want to add swimming sessions to your workout regime? Check out the list of our clubs with pools below!


Garden Grove, Rancho Cucamonga, Corona, Anaheim, Cudahy, San Bernardino


Broomfield, South Monaco, Englewood, Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Thornton, Westminster

New Mexico:

Winrock Town Center

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