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Water Aerobics vs. Lap Swimming – Pros & Cons

Lap Swimming vs. Water Aerobics

Aquatic fitness such as water aerobics and lap swimming can provide numerous benefits ranging from improving cardiovascular fitness, maintaining a healthy body weight, improving stamina, and supporting joint health. Although water aerobics and lap swimming both provide these benefits, they do have attributes that make them different.


Water aerobics provides a solid aerobic workout, but adds anaerobic benefits as well from the movements done against the natural resistance of the water.  Certified health wellness coaching programs recommend water aerobics for all fitness levels and ages.  Another benefit of water aerobics is that you do not have to know how to swim to participate.  Water aerobicsis generally done in water that is waist deep.  Deep water aerobics is done in water that is usually chest deep and this provides a bigger anaerobic gain for being able to do upper body resistance workouts under the water.  Plyometric aerobics can be done in the water to make a high-impact exercise low impact.  Jump squats, broad jumps, skater jumps, and scissor lunges can all be done in the water with little impact on the joints.


Lap swimming focuses more on endurance training and stamina.  You must know how to swim to do lap swimming.  Competitive swimmers will use lap swimming to work on speed drills and build velocity.  Certification tips teach us that adding weights while lap swimming can help build speed, strength, stamina, and endurance which improves competitiveness. Lap swimmers must be mindful of injuries and muscle weaknesses that could lead to imbalances that may negatively impact their sport. Deltoid muscle weakness is common among swimmers and doing functional fitness training and cross training can help prevent these weaknesses or imbalances.  Fitness rowing machines are a great cross training alternative for swimmers that allows them to continue to build on their personal fitness and cardiovascular stamina while reducing the risk of sports injury.


Swimming coaches can help create a personalized program that helps build an aquatic fitness program that is best for you and your fitness goals.  If you are not a strong swimmer or don’t know how to swim at all, start with water aerobics and build your confidence in the water before moving onto other aquatic fitness classes.

Lap swimming vs water aerobics