Running Vs Swimming Every Day! Is it Good or Bad For You?


So you’ve recently gotten into running or swimming and are riding high on the happy endorphins. It can lead you to wonder – if running three times a week feels this good, would running every day feel even better? Well, it depends.

At the end of the day, it is up to the individual to decide if a running or swimming streak is worth it. They both have pros and cons, but neither should be done for prolonged periods of time as it could be taxing on an under-recovered body, which may lead to injuries that take weeks or months to heal.

Let’s look at the differences and similarities between running or swimming every day and whether or not either option is good for you.

Is Running Every Day Good for You? Things To Consider

Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to run every day. While run streaks have gained popularity (especially with public tracking apps like Strava), they may not be the best choice. One of the main reasons you should avoid running every day is the increased risk of injury. This is because your body is under more frequent stress. You’ll be at higher risk of overuse injuries like muscle tears, stress fractures, and shin splints (Source).

Your body needs adequate time to recover after a run – this is called adaptation. Your body grows stronger by recovering from a workout, and skipping that process can leave you feeling burned out.

It can even be mentally taxing to run every single day. If you find yourself dreading your run, but feel anxiety about missing a day, you’re not doing yourself any favors. It’s not beneficial to your overall health if you’re constantly feeling fried and stressed.

However, if you really want to try running every day, there are a few things you can do to make it safer.

Keep it short and easy

Try sticking to a short time or mileage goal. For example, running five or ten minutes a day should be doable for most people, especially if it’s for a short period of time (Source).

Focus on recovery

You should aim to spend as much – if not more – time on recovery as you do on the run itself. So if you run for 10 minutes, you should plan to stretch for 10 minutes.

This can be a good ratio to make sure you’re getting adequate recovery time. Also, make sure you adequately warm up and cool down for every run.

Prioritize sleep

You may find that you need even more sleep than normal when you’re doing a run streak. This is because your body uses sleep as the time to do its repair work. If you can’t devote 8 or more hours each night to sleep, you’re better off not doing a run streak.

Run streaks should only be done with caution and should be immediately stopped at the first sign of injury. It’s typically best to stick to running three to five days a week and adding in cross-training.

Is Swimming Every Day Good for You?

Let’s switch gears to a different kind of exercise: swimming. Swimming is a low-impact sport, so it isn’t as taxing on the joints as running is. It can typically be safe to swim every day, especially at lower intensities.

Simply getting in the water and doing a few laps can be a great way to get the body warmed up and ready to go for the day.

Also, a lot of people find the act of swimming to be meditative and a great way to improve mental health.

This can be especially powerful if you’re able to do some daily swimming in freshwater (rather than a pool). If an indoor pool is your only option, though, you’ll still be able to experience all the health benefits swimming has to offer.

for more on this, we highly recommend that you check out our post “Can You Do Too Much Swimming? How Much is Too Much?! (Age & Experience)

Is It Bad to Swim in Chlorine Every Day?

Chlorine can be really damaging to the skin, nails, and hair, so it’s generally best to avoid swimming in chlorinated pools every day. Swimmers are also at a much greater risk of developing asthma due to inhaling chlorine (Source).

Other statistics claim that one-third of elite swimmers have asthma, 80% of which began after they started swimming

(Source)

Chlorine can also trigger allergies, so some people experience a lot of sneezing while in the pool. On the less serious (but no less frustrating) side, chlorine can really wreak havoc on skin and hair. You’ll likely find yourself constantly reaching for the lotion in order to soothe your dry skin.

If at all possible, it’s best to swim primarily in freshwater sources.

Is Running or Swimming Everyday Good for Weight Loss?

For most individuals, weight loss ultimately comes down to calories in, and calories out (CICO). If you are consuming fewer calories than you’re burning on any given day, you are likely to lose weight. Of course, other factors (like genetics or medication), can impact this, making CICO a bit more complicated. It’s best to work with a registered dietician to see if weight loss is even necessary and, if so, how to do it safely and effectively.

That being said, running or swimming would contribute to the “calories out” portion of the equation. If you’re swimming or running every day, and consuming fewer calories than you burn, you may see some weight loss. However, it’s very important not to under-fuel the body, especially when you’re putting it under the stress of daily workouts. Safe weight loss is typically considered to be 1 pound a week. It can be very challenging to eat in enough of a deficit when you’re very active.

However, you may notice your body composition changing over time, especially if you are being smart about your training and fueling. This is usually because you are gaining muscle while losing fat.

The weight on the scale may not change, but your measurements and the way your clothes fit probably will. This will take time, though, and trying to eat at a significant deficit while also working out every day is likely to backfire on both your appearance and your performance (Source).

It’s often better to focus on the long-term goals of health and fitness, rather than a temporary aesthetic change.

For more on this, we recommend that you check out our post “Does Running Kill Muscle Gains? Or Does It Actually Help!

Signs You Should Take a Rest Day From Running & Swimming

If you’re still interested in trying a running or swimming streak and understand the risks, it’s important to watch out for signs of overtraining.

Here are some clues that you may need a rest day:

Swelling

If you notice swelling in one of your joints or muscles, it could be the first sign of an injury. You should take a rest day to visit the doctor and see what they recommend.

Compensation

If you are running or swimming with an overuse injury or simply poor technique, your body is likely to compensate in other ways. This could look like limping or having to adjust your form to mitigate pain.

Soreness

It’s normal to feel a little sore after a workout, but persistent soreness that won’t go away is a sure sign that you need to take a break. This likely means that your muscles are not recovering properly and they need dedicated time to heal.

Also, check out our post “Is Running Bad for Your Hips? What Runners Need To Know!

Things to keep in mind

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide if a running or swimming streak is worth it. They both have pros and cons, but neither should be done for prolonged periods of time. Even a one mile run can be taxing on an under-recovered body, so pay attention to signs that it’s time to take a break. You don’t want to end up with an injury that takes weeks or months to heal.

Aprill Emig

Based out of Duluth, MN Aprill loves to write about the outdoors, education, and all forms of adventure. You can find her mountain biking, running, or playing roller derby.

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