Which Is Better Exercise Swimming Or Walking

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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There is constant back and forth as people try to find the best exercise and other shortcuts to a healthier lifestyle. However, swimming is the best exercise for burning calories in a short time.

The truth, however, is that neither exercise is perfect. Both options have unique advantages and disadvantages that different kinds of people will want to use or avoid depending on their circumstances.

Read on to learn more about which exercise is better, why it is better, and more in our closer look at the two.

Man with swimming goggles in a pool - Which Is Better Exercise Swimming Or Walking

Which Exercise is Better: Swimming or Walking?

There are arguments to be had for both exercises, but swimming is generally considered to be the better exercise since most people are interested in burning a higher number of calories in as short a time as possible.

While this is true, many people ignore the other benefits and drawbacks that swimming can have over walking or the reason why swimming is better.

People looking for weight loss not only lose fat by burning more calories while swimming but also build more muscle underneath the remaining fat for a more toned appearance.

The opportunity to develop aerobic and anaerobic fitness for a stronger cardiovascular system and set of lungs exist as well.

Man with swimming goggles in a pool - Which Is Better Exercise Swimming Or Walking

How Many Muscles Do You Use During Swimming?

Swimming uses many different muscle groups across the entirety of the body for exercise. Therefore, different muscle groups are engaged more than others, depending on what swim stroke you choose to perform.

Muscles that tend to be shared across most of the swimming strokes include:


  • Muscles of the hands
  • Biceps, triceps, and deltoid muscles in the arms
  • Back muscles down the spine
  • The gluteus maximus of the bottom
  • Teres major and minor of the shoulders and upper arms


The breaststroke uses plenty of leg muscles to perform the frog-like kick, while the freestyle’s (also known as the front crawl) driving force comes mostly from muscles of the upper body, arms, and sides.


Does Walking Exercise Require More Muscle Use Than Swimming?

No, walking does not require more muscle use than swimming because fewer muscles are used compared to swimming. 

Almost all of the muscles used in walking are focused on the legs, but without any resistance to the motion of walking, there is little to no strain on the muscles.

This means that you can walk for as long as you want and receive next to no muscle growth as a result. Swimming is the superior exercise option for those looking to build muscle mass and not simply lose weight.


How Can You Tell Whether it is Better for You to Exercise Swimming or Walking?

Ultimately, it depends on personal preference on which exercise is better for you. You can also work both exercises into your routine – you don’t have to choose one and forego any other alternatives.

Swimming might be better for you if you are looking to lose weight because it is a low-impact form of exercise that will reduce potential strain and damage on joints. It also burns more calories than walking would per hour, making it easier to achieve a calorie deficit.

However, walking may be more useful for you because you can listen to audiobooks or lectures while exercising to get more done.

Elderly people and others with some health conditions will also benefit more from walking than swimming because the high-impact nature of the exercise supports healthy bone density.


Which Exercise is Better for Weight Loss: Swimming or Walking?

As far as weight loss is concerned, swimming is the better exercise. This is because you can expend more calories in a shorter period than walking. 

In addition, it is easier on the joints while trying to lose excess weight and builds more muscle which will burn more calories in the future.

That being said, long or consistent exposure to pool water can irritate the skin and hair because of the chemicals often used to keep the water sanitary. 

In addition, some people might not have easily accessible pools to form a workout routine around either, depending on the season.


Final Thoughts on Whether it is Better to Swim or Walk?

Swimming is often considered to be the best exercise because the high-calorie output and low-impact nature of the exercise are desirable features for people wanting to lose weight.

However, swimming is not always a viable option, and you don’t have to exclusively swim to lose weight. Incorporating walks or runs into a regime with some swimming can give you the best of both worlds for the healthiest possible body.