photo: Speedo UK
Let’s swim! Should you replace your running session with swimming?
Let’s talk swimming. If you love the water and workout, the chances are taking a swim is part of your routine - and why not? The zero-impact sport is a great source of cardio, therapeutic and non-weight-bearing making it a workout favoured by many. If you usually only reserve swimming for a quick dip when you’re on holiday, read on to discover the benefits of this water-based sport as we explore if you should replace your regular running session with swimming.
Just keep swimming
Swimming is a great sport no matter your age or ability as it provides a full body workout and is something you can do entirely at your own pace. The benefits of swimming really do speak for themselves…
- Zero impact sport
- Provides cardiovascular conditioning for a healthy heart
- Helps you to lose or maintain weight
- Prevents diabetes and strokes
- Reduces levels of stress and depression
- Form of therapy for injury recovery
- Lifesaving skill
Swimming VS Running
Both swimming and running are cardio-based workouts and whilst you can find similar benefits in both sports, they do have a few important differences.
You’ll burn a similar amount of calories no matter if you run or swim so it won’t impact your targets too much. It does however depend on the intensity and duration of each session and the efficiency of your movement.
When you run, your whole body supports your weight - meaning there is high impact on your muscles and joints. Swimming is a zero-impact sport; it soothes muscles and therefore naturally complements regular runners.
Running is a simple pattern, one foot follows the other and although practice makes perfect, swimming does require a little more practice initially, more so if you want to really nail the technique and movements.
Mix up your workout
Many professional runners follow a cross-training regime that incorporates several different sports – this helps to improve their overall performance and builds strength and flexibility in muscle groups they don’t frequently exerted when running. Introducing swimming as part of your regular workout routine will first and foremost add variation, which naturally helps you to stay focused and motivated. It also happens to be one of the most complementary sports for runners as it helps to treat inflammation caused by the intensity of regular running.
What our Flybery Women say
We asked two of our Flybery Women to share their own swimming experiences with us, here’s what they said…
Flybery Woman Laura is a marathon runner from London; now recovering from injury, she’s been swimming more and more.
I enjoyed swimming and being in the water so much more than I thought I would. I guess because I had no other option being injured, it was a case of get on with it and make the most of the experience.
Once I had gained some confidence in the water, I was able to use swimming as a way of maintaining my fitness. This was then my key goal to make sure I was able to make a good return to running when the time came. This seemed to work as now I am back to building up my running, I don't feel like I've lost much at all. I used swimming workouts from a number of different online sources as a way of ensuring I was targeting different workouts, but also to add variety to swimming 3 or 4 times a week - which ultimately I think meant I kept enjoying putting on my goggles and getting in the pool.
Swimming is low impact so the perfect way to maintain/improve cardio fitness for runners, without the impact. Swimming uses so many muscles, and I was soon noticing a difference in my upper body strength.
Swimming is also great for recovery - as my strength exercises increased, I found time in the pool after really helped my muscles recovery.
I am going to keep swimming in my routine at least once a week.
Runners should definitely consider the benefits of swimming!
Flybery Woman Zoe knows a thing or two about swimming having competed for years before becoming a yoga teacher.
Swimming taught me discipline from a young age. It taught me that to be the best it requires dedication and passion. I didn't find competitive swimming until the age of 12 which is fairly late but once I found it I ploughed everything in to it. I trained in the water 7+ times a week and also on land in terms of weight training. I fitted it around my schoolwork and social life and all of a sudden it became my life. I lived and breathed swimming. My problem was I didn't believe in myself, my coach told me I was set for big things, I represented England in a National event but still didn't believe in myself. Eventually aged 16 exams and social life took over and gradually I stopped swimming as much as I delved into 'adult life'. I look back on my swimming days with amazing memories. Swimming taught me to fight for what I wanted (my parents couldn't take me to every session to I used to beg lifts with anyone who would take me just to follow my passion), it taught me that I had to eat correctly to fuel myself to compete and to fuel my training, it taught me that exercise can be fun and social but more importantly it taught me that if you really want to make it big you have to have self belief- I wish I'd have known that at the time. Swimming is an amazing sport whether you swim competitively or just for fun. It's non weight bearing and can be used to replace other forms of cardiovascular activity if certain injuries arise. You can start swimming from as early or as late as you like. If you aren't competent in the water or you want to improve from a technical level I'd always advise seeking professional lessons from either a club or a private coach.