Running and swimming are both great exercises for a solid cardiovascular workout.
Both swimming and running burn calories, and both are as much fun as they are beneficial to your overall health.
There are many factors to consider when trying to decide which activity is best for you.
Of course, including both activities in your exercise program is probably the best choice, however it is up to you to decide what works best for you.
Working out in water makes exercising seem easier because of the buoyancy of the water.
However, the resistance of the water makes you expend more energy than you may think. Water can be 800 times more resistant that air.
The water also reduces your body weight by about 90 percent, which greatly reduces the strain on your joints and the soft tissues in your body.
Running, on the other hand, is a very high impact and high intensity exercise performed on land.
Although it can stimulate growth in your bones and muscles, and raise your heart rate to improve the function of your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, it also has a great potential for causing injuries.
The continued strain on your joints and soft tissues can cause instant injuries or lead to long term joint problems.
Water doesn't come without its own share of dangers, but in general, you are more at risk of hurting yourself by running than by swimming.
That is why if you enjoy both sports, alternate days between running and swimming. A low impact, relaxing swim will give your body a much needed break from the high impact of running.
Swimming and running will both burn up more calories than just about any other exercises performed for the same amount of time, such as weight lifting or walking.
However, when it comes to swimming vs running for burning calories, running wins. For example, a person weighing 160 pounds running at eight miles per hour, for one hour, could burn about 986 calories.
This same person swimming laps for one hour can burn about 510 calories.
Even if the person slows down to a running speed of only five miles per hour, more calories will be burned on land than in the water.
Swimming and running both rely primarily on lower body muscles, but swimming requires more use from the upper body muscles than running.
Your legs are stronger and larger than your arms. You need these strong muscles to push your body through the water, and to push your body forward on the ground, mile after mile.
Every part of your legs – your calves, glutes, hamstrings and quads – all contribute to these exercises.
Your upper body helps to keep you balanced and make your running more efficient, but it doesn't have to push against the resistance of the water the way it does while swimming.
You also use your upper body muscles to help pull your weight through the water.
Both exercises work your core muscles to strengthen and stabilize your spine.
Whether to run or swim doesn't have to be an "either/or" decision. Both runners and swimmers can benefit from incorporating the other sport into their exercise program.
Alternating days between running and swimming provides variety and can help fast track your health and fitness level.
However, if you have health issues such as weak joints due to arthritis, running can make it worse.
Swimming is low impact and won't cause any further damage to your joints.
But if your joints are strong and healthy, and your goal is to burn the most calories possible, running is the best choice.