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Swimming and running are amazing for your cardiovascular fitness, but they’re not created equal!

What makes swimming stand out as the best sport? We’re breaking down 10 reasons why swimming is better than running. 

Let’s find out why swimming takes the cake.

1. Total Body Workout

Unlike running, swimming works all the major muscle groups in your body, which helps to build well-rounded, full body fitness. 

When you swim, you’re constantly fighting against the water’s resistance. And if you’ve ever done a swim workout, you know how challenging that can be! Swimming strengthens your upper body, lower body, core and cardiovascular system.

Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Swim

Running, on the other hand, mostly works your lower body, and has less of a resistance component when compared to swimming.

2. Low Impact

Swimming is a great, low impact activity that many people can do from cradle to grave…it’s truly a lifelong sport! And yes, while there are definitely some talented senior runners out there, running is very high impact and can be tougher on your joints as you age. 

Many people enjoy running, but have to be mindful of how often they run to minimize extra stress on their joints. Many swimmers, however, swim daily without worrying too much.

3. Swim Any Time of the Year 

If you have access to an indoor pool or if you live in a place with nice weather, you can swim every day, year round! And, depending on your pool’s hours, you can go for a swim most times of the day.

Outdoor running is much more difficult to maintain year round. Extremely hot or extremely cold weather, plus rain, wind and other conditions, can make it tough to run at times. 

Safety may also be a concern for runners. Some people may not feel comfortable running alone when it’s dark out, which limits their chances for fitting a workout in. By contrast, there will almost always be a lifeguard at the pool, which can give the extra piece of mind needed to make a workout happen.

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4. Escape From the World

Unlike most sports (running included), swimming is one of the only sports that allows you to truly disconnect from the world. Your face is in the water and you’re fully immersed in what you’re doing in that moment. It’s a great way to clear your mind and escape for a bit.

Running might help clear your mind as well, but you’ll have a broader view of your environment that might be distracting, depending on where you choose to run. 

5. Zero Gravity

Swimming is unique in that it feels like you’re floating in zero gravity. When you get into a flow state during your workout, every stroke, turn and streamline feel magical. If you swim, be grateful that you get to experience this feeling every day!

No matter how padded your running shoes are, running definitely isn’t zero gravity. Your feet are pounding on the pavement, and it doesn’t quite feel like you’re flying…

6. Accessibility

Accessibility also makes swimming the superior sport. Compared to running, swimming is significantly more accessible for people with a variety of injuries, health conditions or disabilities. Aqua therapy is a common treatment used for rehabbing injuries and helping people regain mobility and strength!

Running isn’t quite as accessible, which limits the pool of people who can participate.

7. Variety

Swimming also allows for more training variety than running. Think about it: You’ve got four competitive strokes, plus varying pool lengths (25yd, 25m, 50m), open water, and endless options for workout structure and intensity, from distance to sprint. It’s tough to get bored swimming!

Runners also have some options to mix up their workouts, but there aren’t quite as many chances to mix it up. At the end of the day, they’ve still got to put one foot in front of the other! 

To mix up your swim training, check out the MySwimPro app! Each workout includes multiple sets with varying intensities, goals and strokes…no more endless lap swimming here! Download the app on iPhone or Android and start a personalized swim training plan.

8. Pool & Open Water

Keeping with our theme of variety, swimming provides lots of options for pool and open water training. Beyond the standard 25-yard, 25-meter and 50-meter pool lengths, you can get a great workout in pools of nearly any length, from 20 yards to 30 meters. 

You can also go for a swim in the ocean, lakes and rivers.

9. You can Eat Almost Whatever You Want

Swimming burns tons of calories, and there’s a chance you’ll burn more calories during a 30-minute swim than you will during a 30-minute run. That means you’ll probably be extra hungry after hopping out of the pool! 

Related: What Swimmers Should Eat Before, During & After Swimming

Swimmers are known for eating a lot of food, and that’s a pretty great perk of the sport. But be careful…you can’t just eat anything you want, all the time! To keep your health in check, make sure you’re prioritizing protein, carbs and healthy fats to keep your body fueled for performance. Be mindful of your portion sizes and avoid overeating if weight gain is a concern!

10. Cross-Training for Other Sports

Many athletes use swimming to cross-train or recover for their sport. Most people don’t go for a run when they need to recover!

In fact, many runners will add a couple swims per week to their training to challenge their bodies in new ways and help reduce their chances for injuries when they run. 

Swimming is a great complement to most other fitness routines, including weight lifting and running. Learn more about cross-training here. 

BONUS: The Global Swimming Community

One more bonus reason swimming is better than running: The community! Swimming is incredibly social – the crazy folks hopping in the pool at 5 am bond quickly. At the pool you’ll meet people of all ages, from all walks of life. And while your swimming goals and backgrounds may not be the same, you’re all united by your shared love of the water.  

What do you think? Share your thoughts on the swimming vs. running debate in the comments below.

For personalized swim workouts tailored to your speed and skill level, download the MySwimPro app! Save $500 on a Master Spas hot tub or $1000 on a swim spa >



  1. Manny Martines on

    Swimming is BETTER for Swimmers. Running is BETTER for Runners. I’ve been both.
    I began mostly as a runner. Where I was raised, there were plenty of pools, lakes, beaches and swim instruction. My Mom (a non-swimmer) sent me to swim classes. But, swim teams and coaches were too distant and expensive. On the other hand, Cross-County and Track & Field coaches at the local public schools were close and free. They taught me the lifelong value and benefits of fitness and the brand new concept of Cross-Training. The endurance and strength I gained from running enabled me to enjoy other sports, and pass Lifeguard certification.
    Now, given my ‘advanced’ age, I’ve joined Masters Swimming. I run only shorter distances on treadmills as ‘Dry Land’.

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