Walking vs. Swimming for Exercise

Fit swimmer getting out of the swimming pool

Walking vs. swimming for exercise is the dilemma for many fitness neophytes. Both are forms of aerobic exercise. Both provide numerous health benefits and weight loss benefits. But which form of exercise is best for you?

Weighing Options: Walking vs. Swimming for Exercise

Walking is low-impact exercise that you can do anywhere and anytime. You need a comfortable pair of walking shoes and loose clothing. You can walk on a treadmill, in a park, on a sidewalk, in the mall and just from your car to the store, but you can walk anywhere. Swimming, on the other hand, requires water and if it's winter, it requires water that is warm.

The plethora of 24 hour gyms creates the availability of swimming options at all times of day and all year round. The trick, however, is to make sure that your gym membership guarantees the use of the swimming pool while also featuring hours when the pool is available for use. Some gyms conduct water aerobics classes and during those times, the pool is not open to free swimming.

Increased Cardio Health

Walking and swimming are both considered cardiovascular exercises. They strengthen your cardiovascular system, improving your heart and lungs. Both increase your immune system and your metabolism. You will sleep better at night and you will increase your level of personal fitness.

Both forms of exercise will also reduce stress. Stress has a debilitating effect on overall health, and regular exercise reduces the effect of stress on your body, whether you are swimming, walking, running or doing weights.

Low-Impact Exercise

Swimming and walking are both forms of low-impact exercise. They don't beat your joints up. The buoyancy of water actually helps a person who is overweight to exercise more efficiently. Walking is low impact, particularly when you use the right shoes, because it creates less wear and tear on your knees.

Complete Exercise

When it comes to walking vs. swimming for exercise, swimming is considered the more complete exercise. Swimming works muscles in the legs, back, arms, shoulders and chest. You use upper, core and lower body to swim. Walking mostly requires engaging your lower body, although the effects of fat trimming can be seen elsewhere, it does not tone the upper body the way swimming will. The buoyancy also creates a weightless effect which reduces chances for injury. Swimmers suffer the fewest injuries overall.

Solitary Exercises

Swimming is a solitary exercise, unlike walking. You can walk with a friend, a relative, a child or a pet. You can walk and talk and catch up on what's going on and motivate each other. You can go to the pool with friends, but swimming itself is a solitary activity. You can't really have a conversation while doing strokes in the pool, even if you are sharing a friendly competition on how many laps you can do with a friend.

Tips for Swimming and Walking

If you are just getting started, you need to ramp up slowly for both. Don't be afraid to take a few swimming lessons or to work with a personal trainer on a walking program. Lessons can help you reduce the amount of energy you waste getting back into the routine.

If you're trying to decide between the two, consider walking to build up your stamina while taking a couple of swimming lessons to rebuild your proficiency. Both forms of exercise are beneficial, and you can maximize your health, weight loss efforts and build muscle.

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Walking vs. Swimming for Exercise