Swimming vs. Walking: What’s Best for You

It’s the time of year when we’re all thinking more about exercise and getting outside. Depending on where you are in the world, the weather is finally getting nicer, and we’re all looking forward to sunnier days and a chance to move our bodies more.

This begs the question: which exercise is going to be more beneficial overall? Should we choose swimming or walking, or both? Lucky for you, we’ve put together the pros and cons of both swimming and walking so that you don’t have to.

After reading, you’ll be informed enough to decide which exercise is best for you and your body. Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The Pros and Cons of Swimming

Do you enjoy feeling lightweight in the water? Whether you choose to swim in the ocean or in a pool, there are plenty of pros and cons to the exercise itself. You may already know a couple of the benefits, but let’s highlight the important ones so that you can tell if swimming is best for you. First, we’ll take a look at the number of calories burned during a swim and the impact swimming has on your joints.

Pro: Swimming Burns a Lot of Calories

We’re happy to say that swimming has the potential to burn a significant amount of calories during a single swim session. While both swimming and walking are known to burn calories and are wonderful forms of staying fit, swimming can burn calories more quickly than walking can.

If you’re interested in tracking your calorie deficit for optimal weight loss results, it’s important to take this pro into account when choosing which workouts to add to your schedule. Swimming is great if you want a shorter workout that will give you results.

Pro: Swimming Builds Muscle Tone

While walking has a lot to do with leg muscles, a pro to swimming is that it helps build and tone many muscle groups of the body. You’ll notice developing more muscle tone because the muscles will look firm while in a resting state, whereas muscles that aren’t as toned are less defined and soft.

If you like the look of being lean and toned, swimming is a great way to achieve that. Just like swimming is great at burning quite a lot of calories, it’s also great for burning fat, which will help you reach a toned look.

Con: Lack of Bone Density Increase

This isn’t to say that swimming doesn’t provide any increase in bone density, but walking definitely provides more. Swimming is known for being easy on the bones and joints. Because of this, there's a lack of weight-bearing that swimming entails, which is key when increasing bone density.

While there are other ways for swimmers to work on bone density, we definitely think there are better forms of exercise to work on this specific area of health.

Con: Skin and Hair Irritation From Swimming

No matter if you’re swimming in an ocean or a pool, swimming has the potential to cause skin and hair irritation. This could be especially true if most of your swims are in a pool with chlorine. While chlorine is great at keeping a pool clean and safe to swim in, it can have negative effects on hair and skin health.

Take a look at a few possible skin and hair irritations:

  • Weakened hair cuticles/hair breakage
  • Skin redness
  • Itchiness
  • Scaling on the skin

You may experience one of these or none of these, but it’s good to know what’s possible so you can prevent it or deal with it properly.

The Pros and Cons of Walking

Just like swimming, walking has its own pros and cons. If you like taking strolls outdoors and taking some time to enjoy nature, then walking could definitely be best for you. However, as we mentioned earlier, walking takes more effort to burn more calories than swimming does.

There are more pros and cons to walking that we’ll dive into now. Keep these in mind if you’re trying to decide how to best spend your precious workout time. Don’t take these lightly, and remember you can even have a mix of both exercises!

Pro: Walking Can Strengthen Your Joints

Walking and keeping your body moving is an awesome way to strengthen your joints, and is easier on them than running or stair climbing would be. Walking is a great way to strengthen ligaments and tendons in the legs, and will help keep you at a healthy weight. This will allow there to be less overall pressure on your joints, as well.

Walking is a much better way to strengthen your joints than not moving at all. When you’re not moving, there is more of a risk of developing conditions such as osteoporosis. So, put on your shoes and go for a long, leisurely walk.

Pro: Walking Is Great for Healthy, Gradual Weight Loss

Is it weight loss you’re looking for? Losing weight gradually is healthy and can be more easily kept up with. Because it takes a little longer to burn calories while walking, the weight loss won’t be instantaneous. When walking, your body’s oxygen will increase, which is what releases fat cells to be burned as fuel.

As we mentioned, an exercise like swimming burns more calories in a shorter amount of time, which in turn means that walking will cause losing weight to take a little longer. This isn’t a bad thing if you’re wanting to implement walking as a lifestyle change and have a healthier routine in general.

Con: Walking Can Still Put Strain on Joints and Knees

Even though walking is easier on your joints and knees than running or faster-paced exercises, it can still put a strain on them if you aren’t careful. When walking, you should be sure you’re careful to not overdo it, and keep in mind that stretching, warming up, and cooling down are all important practices to include in your walking routine.

To prevent strains while walking, do your best to properly stretch and make sure to ease into the walking workout. With these in mind, you should be able to prevent any issues while out and about.

Con: Walking Could Still Be Too Hard on Your Bones

Depending on where you are in your exercise journey, and taking into account any other health issues you may have, walking might still be a little too hard on your bones and bone density. Especially if you’re new to exercising regularly, swimming might be a safer way to jump in and get moving.

Take it slow at first to gauge whether or not walking is the best for you or if you should start with something else.

Be Prepared for Either

No matter which you choose, walking or swimming, we think there are some key things to make sure you have with you to be ultra prepared. Swimming and walking can both take you outdoors, which means you’ll have to be sure to throw in the sunglasses and sunscreen in your bag.

Check out these other essentials we think are perfect for whichever exercise you choose:

We’re sure you have other essentials in mind for what you’d put in your pool bag or walking pack, but we wanted to make sure you knew our favorites when it comes to both workouts.

Get Moving!

So, what do you think? Have you decided which exercise you’re going to get out there and do first? We enjoy both and are happy to say that there are amazing benefits to both.

You can be confident that whichever you choose, you’ll be improving your health either way and you can have fun doing so. Grab your swimsuit or walking shoes and get that heart rate up!


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