Running vs Swimming

Running vs Swimming – How Does Running Compare to Swimming

With more and more people trying to live a healthier lifestyle, it’s not uncommon for people to try to find the quickest way to get fit, lose weight and become healthier. Running and swimming are two fitness activities that have become one of the most popular forms of exercise over the past few years.

So, how do the two stack up against each other? In this article, we compare running vs swimming and how they both compare in terms of fitness, calories burnt, and distance. So, Keep reading to find out whether running is better for you than swimming or vice versa.

Running vs Swimming – Which Is Better For Fitness?

Even though running and swimming are popular fitness activities and excellent forms of cardiovascular exercise, both offer slightly different benefits. So how does running vs swimming compare in terms of fitness benefits?
Swimming helps strengthen your upper body, core, and glutes while having the ability to raise your heart rate quickly. It is classed as one of the best all-body workouts because it works the core, arms, shoulders, and back, but it also burns a high amount of calories while doing it. Then to make it even more appealing, it is a low-impact form of exercise.

Running, on the other hand, tends to work more on the lower body. However, the upper body is still used in running, although just not as much as swimming. Running also boasts a full-body workout and generally, most people are able to start this form of exercise much easier than swimming. One thing running does have over swimming is it helps to prevent bones loss. Something that swimming is known to lack since it is a low-impact exercise.

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So, knowing this both running and swimming have many benefits as a form of exercise. The one that will benefit you the most depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

Benefits of starting running over swimming
– Easier to start as a beginner
– Lower cost than swimming
– Improves bone strength
– Easier to exercise with company
– Can be performed anywhere and anytime

Benefits of starting swimming over running
– Low impact if you struggle with fractures or other injuries.
– Gets the heart rate up quicker
– Burns more calories in a shorter timespan
– Works the whole body

Do You Burn More Calories Running or Swimming?

Do You Burn More Calories Running or Swimming?

Running and swimming are two of the best forms of exercise to burn calories. However, for most beginners starting their fitness journey, swimming will burn the most calories in the beginning.

So, once your fitness improves, do you burn more calories running or swimming?

For most people, swimming is an easier sport to start off with. Since it is a non-weight-bearing activity most people are able to do it for a longer time than running in the beginner, thus burning more calories in the beginning.

However, once the beginner is more comfortable running and their body is used to the impacts of running, they will generally burn more calories than swimming.

Below is an estimate of what calories you should expect to burn when comparing running vs swimming calories. (data was provided by

 Activity (30 mins)  56kg 84kg
Swimming Easy Pace 180 cal 266 cal
Swimming Fast Pace 300 cal 444 cal
Running 5mph pace (8km/hr pace) 240 cal 355 cal
Running 7.5mph pace (12km/hr pace) 375 cal 555 cal
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Swimming vs Running Cardio

Swimming vs Running Cardio – What’s The Difference?

Even though both sports are known to be good for cardiovascular fitness, swimming is a more cardiovascular workout than running. This means that you are more likely to lose more weight from swimming than running.

Swimming offers far more resistance in the water than air does to running, hence why the cardiovascular expenditure is higher.

Studies have shown that performing backstroke or freestyle for 30 minutes actually burns around 30-50 calories more than running for the same time. That alone just shows you how much more efficient running is than swimming.

That being said, a lot of this depends on your background in both sports. As the more you swim or the more you run, the more efficient you will become and your cardiovascular efficiency will improve.

So Which is Better? – Swimming or Running

So, the big answer to the question, should you start running or swimming as a choice of fitness activity. Well, it depends on what you want to achieve. The reason may be weight loss, fitness, tone up the body, or just to live a healthier lifestyle.

Either way both running and swimming provide a great way to improve your overall health. As both burn similar amounts of calories and provide similar cardiovascular benefits (even though swimming is slightly ahead on both).

One thing you must know about starting swimming is that we recommend you to get a swim coach. This will help you learn freestyle or the stroke of your choice much faster. It will help you to be able to swim for longer and be much more efficient in the water. Both will help you to burn more calories, improve your aerobic fitness and enjoy it more.

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