Let’s take a look at the break down of jogging and swimming before we weigh in on which activity is best for physical fitness.
Jogging is a great way to get in shape and you get to enjoy the weather. It is an impact exercise, which leads to firmer and stronger muscles, as well as bones. It increases your heart rate, making your heart stronger and, in the long run, helps fight off disease. Increasing your metabolism burns calories and helps get rid of excess fat in the abdominal and hip areas. Jogging boosts endurance, making it easier to do little things, like climbing stairs or running to catch your plane. Jogging builds confidence and allows you to push yourself so that you get stronger and in time can cover more distance and start going faster. When jogging you are simply moving through air, which takes less force, decreasing an overall workout, so think about what other workouts you can do before or after.
Besides working out your body, you’re also exercising your mind. Joggers have to be aware at all times, as there are various obstacles that they may come into contact with. If you’re jogging on a busy street or a hiking trail you have to watch out for other people, cars, branches, rocks, animals, etc. You need to prepare for jogging in a number of ways to keep yourself safe and avoid injury. Make sure you have the right clothing and shoes. Depending on the weather you need to think about the correct clothing to wear and you’ll need a good fitting shoe that is flexible and shock absorbing.
Since you are using so much energy and oxygen when jogging, it also can help with insomnia. It is interesting that people also say it gives you more energy to get through the day when done first thing in the morning. I suppose it depends on the person…
As an aerobic exercise it increases lung function. If you’re just starting to jog you’ll need pretty good lung function to begin with. You need to be able to take in a lot of oxygen. For people with asthma and other conditions similar to it, jogging can be very hard to do. When jogging is done outside, there are many issues that affect you and your lungs, like allergens and pollutants. It’s a good idea to be aware of weather conditions when jogging, because you should not jog when it is too hot or too cold.
Swimming is almost the opposite workout from jogging although they do have some of the same benefits. While jogging is a high impact exercise, swimming is more like yoga – it is about resistance and not impact. Lower impact exercises do not overtax the bones; it actually makes them stronger because of this. Swimming is good for older people and others with certain conditions, as it helps with sore joints and stiff muscles. Like jogging, swimming is an aerobic exercise, helping with heart health.
When you get into the water your body automatically becomes lighter, allowing you to move better. There is a wide range of motions that you get from swimming and it works out your entire body. It stretches, strengthens and tones muscles, but does not strain them. Since you’re using more of your body you burn more calories.
The similarities that swimming and yoga have are really a great thing. With every stroke you take your entire body is lengthened. The released endorphins put you in an almost meditative state. Since you become more relaxed mentally, your muscles are able to stretch and retract more easily. As a result of all of this, you’re most likely to enjoy steadier breathing.
Swimming can be done outside or indoors. Especially when indoors, since the air is moist, it can really help with asthma and other breathing conditions, as well as overall lung health. There are also no allergens or pollutants.*
*Although chlorine is a pollutant and allergen for some it is not always an issue. If you’re swimming in a pool at a gym or fitness center you’re most likely safe, because they make sure not to add too much chlorine. However, if you’re skeptical, you can tell them that you’re very sensitive and see if they tell you their pool contains more than the regular amount needed. On the other hand, if you’re swimming in your own pool, you can look into tools and tips for monitoring chlorine levels. You could also use those tools to test the pools at your gym and fitness centers.
And The Winner Is? … Swimming!
Swimming is for everyone! It doesn’t matter what physical issues you have or what age you are, you can swim and it’ll benefit you. Those that have brittle bones, bad knees, hips or ankles will have a hard time jogging. If you have any of these conditions, or others, swimming will help you get in better shape physically and mentally. You use your entire body while swimming and not just your legs and abdomen. And swimming is an anti-inflammatory.
There are fewer obstacles and distractions to overcome with swimming then there are with jogging. If you haven’t worked out in a long time and are not used to exercise, swimming is the perfect place to start. It will allow you to work up to exercises like jogging and running.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t jog. If you like it, go for it! But it wouldn’t hurt to put some swimming into your schedule. Take a deep breath and jump in!