Swimming vs. Running – Which is a Better Weight Loss Workout?

Everyone knows that exercise is a key part of losing weight. However, not every exercise is created equally. For example, is running a mile better or worse than swimming a mile? The answer is that if you can pick swimming over running, you are making the right choice for your weight loss workout.

Running vs. Swimming

Both exercises have their advantages for healthy weight loss and both exercises can help improve your cardiovascular health, it is just that the advantages for swimming outweighs running.

What are the benefits of swimming?

When you swim, you get a full-body workout that is easier on your joints than running. When you are swimming, you are working mostly your lower body,including your guts, hamstrings, calves and quadriceps. However, swimming does also work your upper body muscles more than running does. Your arms and other upper body muscles are used to pull your body though the water, building upper-body strength.

Photo by Efe Kurnaz on Unsplash
Photo by Efe Kurnaz on Unsplash

Swimming for thirty minutes a day helps you lose weight if your calorie intake is consistent. Your intensity has to be vigorous if you want this to work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies a moderate-intensity workout as any workout that keeps you at 50 to 70 percent maximum heart rate. A vigorous 7-minute workout goes from 70 to 85 percent maximum heart rate.

You can burn off roughly 350 calories during a vigorous, intense 30-minute swim. If you burn 500 calories more than you eat every day, you can lose a pound a week. You can lose almost 90% of your body weight with swimming. It takes more physical effort to swim two miles than it does to run two miles. In other words, swimming takes more of a cardio effort than running does.

Another plus to swimming is the water resistance. Water resistance is stronger than the wind resistance associated with running. You can get consistent resistance if you swim in the pool. Running offers unpredictable resistance. The amount of calories you burn is affected by the resistance. Swimming is best for joint pain prevention. It is a low-impact exercise, and it is better for older people to pick swimming over running.

Don’t Count Running Out

Running is a great runner up. You can burn almost 700 calories if you run seven miles an hour. There is more potential to lose weight with running, but for overall health purposes, swimming is the better option, especially for people who suffer from arthritis and other joint problems. Plus, you can swim for thirty minutes a day, but for running to be effective, it is best to run for at least an hour a day.

Running also helps you build stronger bones, because it increases your bone mineral density. However, there is a downside to this. Running can increase your chances of getting a bone fracture. Your arms do move while you run, but it is not going up against resistance like it does in swimming. Thus, you do not get a full upper-body workout. One way to help is to carry weights while you run. It can help to increase your upper-body workout. You should know this medical information.

Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

There are some other advantages to running. If you do not have your own swimming pool, it can be hard to get swimming time. You have to adhere to your club, gym or public pool’s schedule. You will also have to compete with other people for room to swim. However, with running, you can run anywhere. If it is raining outside, you can run on a treadmill to lose weight. You can run in a park, on your street, in a parking lot, etc. There are plenty of places you can run. You can make your running more difficult or easier depending on where you run. For example, you can change the incline on your treadmill or run up and down hills and valleys in a park.

When it comes to working out, both swimming and running are great choices for burning calories. If you want a full-body workout with consistent conditions, swimming is the best option. If you like a change in terrain and want to improve your bones, running is the better choice. Either way, adding physical activity to your life is a positive step in healthy living.

Author Bio

Kelly Everson (@kellyeverson12) is an American author and MA in English literature. She is a health article writer who has written numerous articles/online journals on stretch marks, pregnancy, sleep disorders, female health and joint pain problems. She is also passionate about health, beauty and fitness. She has been contributing to Consumer Health Digest since 2011, Examiner since 2013, Epochtimes & Healthline since 2014.


27 thoughts on “Swimming vs. Running – Which is a Better Weight Loss Workout?”

    • “Running also helps you build stronger bones, because it increases your bone mineral density.”

      Thats way understating it. Among all sports, swimming and cycling are the lowest, shockingly low, bone density due to the absence of gravity.

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  2. Excellent article! Most people think of swimming as a total body workout, but it’s amazing that swimming can boost your brain power. A swim in the morning keeps me feeling great through the day. Helps build endurance, strength, and stamina.

  3. Wow !!! Your Blog tips are really appreciable i really like these. Fitness is more important thing in our busy lifestyle. If you need a happy life then you need a healthy and active body.

  4. I am so grateful I found your post, You are inspiring me to make a weight loss plan. You’ve really covered up almost all the possible tips that a beginner should follow to make a weight loss plan. I have been thinking of make a weight loss plan. Actually, I got a lot of information from your blog which can help to make a weight loss plan. Thanks.

  5. “You can lose almost 90% of your body weight with swimming.” Really?!? That means I can lose almost 180 lbs if I weigh 200!!!

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  7. I thought swimming is better for weight loss. I have over 8 years swimming experience and never over weight.

    MY workout is freestyle 1000m per two days, and preset 40 laps as my vibrate alarm target on my COUNTU Goal tracker. When I reach 40 laps target, COUNTU will vibrate my finger to alarm me. I feel pretty good after swimming.

  8. There are wrong informations in this article. It says that swimming is essential a lower body exercise (in other words). It’s exactly the opposite.Swimming is mainly upper body. Every swimmer knows that! Yes, we use our legs and so on. But around 80% of the movement in water is the result of arms, chest, shoulders…

    • Exactly. Zacharia is correct. If you add weights around your wrists and wear gloves your upper body workout is incredible. And it makes the swimming a lot more grueling . Start with light weights.

  9. Did you just compare running two miles to swimming two miles? How retarded are you? If you had a brain perhaps you would consider comparing running 30 minutes to swimming 30 minutes.

    Oh wow! Crawling two miles takes longer than swimming two miles…so that means crawling is a better workout!

  10. Did anyone else feel like this article was written by a kid? Or at least a bad translation from another language? There’s very little useful info, facts that are wrong, and sayings like “you should know this medical information” after info that is not medical in any sense.

  11. What a bullshit… “It takes more physical effort to swim two miles than it does to run two miles.”
    Sure, because it takes like 15min to run 2 miles, but like 60mins to swim the same distance… BUT running 60 minutes vs swimming 60minutes will be a similar effort.

    Also – “it is best to run for at least an hour a day.” NO!! It is a terrible idea to run every day.

    You should delete this nonsense article. There are people who might believe what you say and they will harm themselves…

    • I used to run 11 out of every 14 days (the other three days:1) SWIM, 2)BODYBUILDING 3) A COMPLETE DAY OFF). You need to rest your body occasionally or you will risk INJURY and BURN OUT!!

  12. I have experimented with many types of physical fitness HIGHS. Namely RUNNING (PRs for males 226 pounds+ 2.5KM 11:39 3KM 13:56 5KM 22:58 8KM 39:15 and 10KM 45:53), BODYBUILDING and SWIMMING. I have concluded that the SWIMMING HIGH IS THE MOST POWERFUL.

    • I would like to add that success in physical fitness can lead to A LONG LIFE and a liking for NON-MATERIALISM. I used to wear two sweatshirts: ME: 1962-21? and MOXIE MUSIC WATER. I got a lot of interesting looks from the pedestrians and drivers in front of me. My favourite tunes when running for training or competitively: AFRICA (TOTO) and DO YOU BELIEVE IN LOVE? (HUEY LEWIS AND THE NEWS)!!!


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