Water vs. Land Walking

Which burns more calories - water or land walking?
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In our weekly fitness Q&A series, William Sukala, MS, CSCS, answers questions about fitness, from whether to eat before exercising to how to treat sore muscles.

Q: Do I expend more energy walking in water for 30 minutes, or walking on land for 30 minutes?

A: Not all walks are created equal. Water provides a supportive medium, which lessens the overall gravitational load on the body. Thus, walking in water expends less energy (and therefore burns fewer calories) than walking on land. But don't throw in the towel just yet. If you like water walking, extend the duration to maximize calorie burning. Most important, have fun. Participate in aquatic exercise classes at your local health club.

Aquatic exercise is a superb activity and depending on the person, it may be better than walking on land. For individuals with pre-existing injuries, balance issues, or arthritis, water walking may be just what the doctor ordered. As previously mentioned, water affords a warm, supportive medium. This helps reduce the overall stress on the joints (i.e., arthritis) and lowers the risk of falls in elderly people with gait abnormalities.

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