Swimming vs Cycling: The Ultimate Row for Weight Loss. Find Out Which Exercise Is More Beneficial

Swimming vs Cycling: The Ultimate Row for Weight Loss. Find Out Which Exercise Is More Beneficial

Swimming vs Cycling: The Ultimate Row for Weight Loss. Find Out Which Exercise Is More Beneficial (Representational pic)

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Research suggests that swimming holds the upper hand in the calorie-burning battle, with its multi-muscle engagement edging out cycling. However, the decision isn’t as clear-cut as calories burned per hour. 

15 May 2024

By Ishika Kumar

In the quest to shed those extra pounds and achieve a healthier lifestyle, the debate between swimming and cycling often takes centre stage. As two of the most beloved aerobic exercises — each boasting a myriad of health benefits — come face-to-face, the question arises: which is superior when it comes to weight loss?

The Battle Begins

Swimming: Dive into the Pool of Fitness

Swimming emerges as a full-body workout extravaganza, engaging muscles from head to toe. Dr Neha Gill PT, Senior Physiotherapist at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chandigarh, commends swimming’s virtues, citing its affordability and low-impact nature. 

With muscles like the core, arms, shoulders, back and legs all in action, swimming delivers a comprehensive fitness regimen and an overall workout for the body. Moreover, its therapeutic potential, particularly in aquatic therapy or hydrotherapy, is gaining traction, offering respite to those with soft tissue or joint injuries.

However, swimming isn’t without its pitfalls. Overuse injuries lurk in the depths, ready to ensnare those engaged in extensive training. Additionally, the chemical cocktail lurking in pool waters can spell trouble for the skin, leading to dryness and irritation or other skin-related issues.

Cycling: Pedal Power

On the other side of the spectrum is pedal cycling, a childhood favourite for many. With its emphasis on lower body muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, cycling provides a robust cardiovascular workout without the need for extensive training and gym equipment. Yet, the price of admission is steeper, with equipment costs outweighing those of swimming. Despite its accessibility, cycling isn’t without risks; falls and muscle strains pose potential hazards.

Weight Loss Showdown

Research suggests that swimming holds the upper hand in the calorie-burning battle, with its multi-muscle engagement edging out cycling. However, the decision isn’t as clear-cut as calories burned per hour. Swimming’s allure lies in its gentle embrace, making it an ideal choice for individuals with joint issues. Meanwhile, cycling’s focus on lower body muscles offers a different appeal, providing versatility in indoor and outdoor settings both.

Swimming’s Weight Loss Wonders

Diving into the pool means immersing oneself in a full-fledged calorie-burning workout. A study in the Metabolism journal found swimming to be a particularly effective activity to engage in, for reducing body weight, especially in sedentary women aged between 50 to 70. Its full-body engagement, targeting the core, upper body and all leg muscles, contributes to its weight loss prowess. Additionally, swimming’s low-impact nature makes it a haven for those with joint pain or obesity.

Cycling’s Focused Wonders

Cycling, while focusing predominantly on the lower body, packs a punch in the weight loss arena. Its versatility allows for outdoor adventures or indoor stationary sessions alike, whilst catering to diverse preferences. With muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves working in tandem, cycling delivers a potent calorie-burning workout. Moreover, its cardiovascular benefits bolster heart health and lung capacity, enhancing overall fitness.

The Verdict: It’s Personal

Ultimately, the choice between swimming and cycling boils down to personal preference, physical condition and specific goals. Fitness expert Rhea Ekhlas Shroff emphasises the importance of enjoying the chosen workout, as consistency is key to long-term success. Whether you prefer the serenity of swimming or the thrill of cycling, both offer pathways to weight loss and improved fitness.

Who Should Proceed with Caution?

While swimming and cycling are hailed as fitness cornerstones, certain individuals should proceed with caution.

Swimming Cautions: Those with respiratory issues, skin sensitivities or fear of water and other such phobias should approach swimming with care, mindful of potential challenges like irritation from pool chemicals, exacerbation of asthma symptoms, triggers to phobias and drowning.

Cycling Cautions: Individuals with back problems or balance issues should exercise caution when cycling, ensuring proper bike fitting and posture to mitigate risks of strain or instability. Riding in traffic should be done carefully if cycling from one point to another.

Finding Your Fitness Oasis

In the timeless battle between swimming and cycling for weight loss supremacy, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Both offer unique benefits, catering to diverse preferences and fitness levels. As health and fat loss coach Jashan Vij aptly puts it, the best workout is the one you love and consistently engage in. So, whether you’re gliding through the water or pedalling through the countryside, embrace the journey towards a healthier you.