Is Swimming Better for Your Body than Running?

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Is all exercise created equal?

Biking, swimming, running, group sports, weight lifting–they are all forms of exercise, but are they equally beneficial for your body?

While all exercise is good for the body, some kinds of exercise may be better for helping you achieve your goals than others. Or, another way to put it is that some forms of exercise may be better for your unique body than others.

Swimming and running are two very popular forms of exercise, and you may be wondering which is best. They are both simple – requiring little more than a pair of shoes for running and a body of water for swimming. While both are good for your body, there are some things about swimming that can make it the best choice for your body. Here are the facts:

Low Impact

Especially for those with joint pain or injuries, the low impact nature of swimming is a big plus. The water reduces your body’s weight by up to 90%! That means you’ll put a lot less pressure on your joints while exercising. Running on the other hand is high-impact which can result in strain on your joints over time. However, it is weight bearing exercise because you feel the full weight of your body. This is important for bone health.


Both running and swimming provide cardiovascular and respiratory focused exercise. The heart rate increases and your breathing quickens. This improves your overall cardiovascular and respiratory function when resting.


The use of muscles while swimming is different than while running. When swimming, up to 800 times the resistance is met in water when compared to air. This means your body must work harder to continue moving, pushing against the water.  Many runners do cross training in the pool for this reason. In addition to swimming, they often do running exercises in the shallow end to experience the additional resistance.

Incorporates Upper Body

Running and swimming both make heavy use of the legs and lower body, but swimming incorporates the upper body a bit more. The pulling motion in the arms and the resistance met as they help pull you through the water provides more of an upper body workout than running.

So, is swimming better for your body than running? For those who experience joint pain and want to ensure they’re getting a full body workout, yes.

Both forms of exercise are valuable. But consider including swimming in your exercise plan as well. Swimming is a great way to incorporate cardiovascular, full body exercise into your routine without wearing out your joints. Cardiovascular health is absolutely essential for humans to maintain, but keeping your joints safe is also incredibly important. You’ll also gain other benefits from swimming such as the upper body workout and the resistance from the water.

If you enjoy swimming, keep doing it! It’s a great form of exercise that you can enjoy throughout your whole life, even if joint pain starts to creep in.

As always, Blue Buoy Swim School is thrilled to offer you plenty of unrivaled opportunities to learn and enjoy swimming. Give us a call today at 714-832-8910

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