Swimming compared to running

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 13, 2008 5:14 PM GMT
    I've recently developed cold induced asthma so my doctor recommended that I find some cardio workout to do inside, instead of out. The only thing is, even though I love running, I hate running on a treadmill. I've considered swimming and have tried it a few times. I enjoy it, but was just wondering if I'm getting less of a workout than running or more? I usually ran for about an hour, so how long would I need to spend in the pool?

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    Nov 13, 2008 10:24 PM GMT
    I would think that swimming was a better workout than running. You breath more, you use more muscle groups, and move in a larger range of motion. But I'm no expert, so I could be wrong. It's something I've often wondered about though, because I LOVE treadmill running, hate running outside, but love swimming in the pool more than anything.

    +2 to topic tracking.
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    Nov 13, 2008 10:32 PM GMT
    According to this chart, running seems to burn more calories than swimming:


    I know running seems harder than swimming to me. I could swim all day but find it hard to run more than 40 minutes.

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    Nov 14, 2008 12:09 AM GMT
    I think swimming is better cardio for you than running, for a number of reasons:

    1) Low impact. You won't be having the aches and pains that accompany running
    2) Anaerobic exercise. Your breathing is restricted, so it's much easier to do both a combo of Aerobic & anaerobic cardio.
    3) More muscle groups worked. You are actively using your entire body to swim. Almost every muscle group is engaged during swimming (assuming of course you are using proper form), and you are actively engaging your arms, shoulders, and legs at the very least during swimming.

  • Tritimium

    Posts: 261

    Nov 14, 2008 12:41 AM GMT
    It's all about pacing and heart rate (HR). Swimming may feel easier than running, but if you jump in the pool and do a series of 50m sprints (after warming up, of course!), you'll get tired just as quickly as if you did a few fast laps of a running track. Conversely, you could swim for hours using an easy front crawl, breaststroke or backstroke, just as you could run for miles at an easy jog. It depends on your goals. Duration is inversely proportional to intensity.

    If it's cardio training you're after, consider learning about and using HR as a guide (if you don't already), and the value of training in the various 'zones' according to what training benefit you wish to gain. Ideally, each cardio session (in whatever discipline) would have a focus on a particular HR zone, rather than just grinding away at the same speed for hours on end. That won't do much good for anyone, even marathon runners.

    Hope that made sense! Message me if unsure, though I'm no expert.
  • toybrian

    Posts: 395

    Nov 14, 2008 12:50 AM GMT
    Ryan, sorry to hear about your problem and just wanted to let you know that I am a big time runner and love to race also...I try to run over 35 miles a week or more and sometimes I also swim at the gym...One does help the other out for cross training ands it helps with your breathing also...I usually would try to do 40 laps or more in those small pools and that would be enough to tire me out...Still love running outdoors but know what you mean about the treadmill..I am the same...too se to the freedom outdoors and hard to feel like I am confined on the treadmill...thanks and good luck to you....Brian..
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    Nov 16, 2008 12:11 AM GMT
    Thanks for all of the replies guys. It sounds like the topic is a little debated, haha. I think I'm going to stick to swimming for a few months until it gets warmer, then switch back. It seems like the effectiveness of the workouts are about the same.

    Thanks again,
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    Nov 16, 2008 12:18 AM GMT
    I swam most of my life and was horrible at running. It didnt make me cut either. So I'd say running is better in terms of burning calories. I did have a rather low resting heart rate though so that says its good for your cardiovascular system.

    Swimming is also not going to help you if you have bad technique and thus cant maintain the excercise and your heart rate...
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    Nov 16, 2008 12:53 AM GMT
    You might look into swimming with a local masters swim team (FAST -
    Fort Worth Area Swim Team). I swam with them a few years ago and at that time it was a good program.
    FAST: http://www.fastswimming.org/
    US Masters swimming: http://www.usms.org/

    The masters team coaches tend to be pretty well versed in stroke mechanics and with more efficient stokes you'll be able to get a better workout. Also, I always tend to work harder during a workout if I have someone to swim against - so I'd recommend joining a masters team. It’s a great cardio workout; I swim 4-5 days a week and my resting heart rate is 42.