Is running or swimming or cycling better for you?

The one that you enjoy doing.

This is not a novel idea. But it bears repeating. Sometimes, we share articles with such titles. And, even though they often contain helpful information beyond the title, the title annoys me and I usually mutter to myself, “the one you enjoy doing”. Duh.

On occasion, when someone hears that I enjoy running, they will say “Oh, I wish I enjoyed it, but I don’t”. “I’ve never been able to achieve that “runner’s high”. To which, I will say, that’s OK, it’s not for everyone. What do you enjoy?

Most advice about moving for wellness, boils down to a few main ideas. Any movement, you enjoy, that you can do safely, and that raises your heart rate a bit, is useful. It may prolong your life (it may not) and it will likely make you feel better, day to day.

As I get older, it feels ever more important to me that I remain consistent with fitness. Consistent with doing the things that work for me. A mix of running, indoor cycling, walking, HIIT-style workouts that are careful and thoughtful, some strength exercises and mobility. The strength and mobility are mainly so that I can continue running.

How many times have you seen a person say “I hate running!” but “I’m doing a couch to 5K program!”. They may complete that program, but if they hate running, it’s not likely to stick. It’s not likely to become consistent. The consistency is where the gold is. It’s where the brain-rewarding, juice-flowing, joint-soothing gold is.

I don’t like to ride a bike outside, mainly because I never became a good cyclist and I don’t have the interest to become better at it. So, it’s not for me. But, I love spinning on an indoor bike.

I hate treadmills. My brain wants me to jump off as soon as there’s any real movement. I prefer running outside, in the weather (all of it, rain, sun, light snow).

It doesn’t matter if a study comes out that suggests that riding a bike outside is going to give my heart health a slight edge. Because, I won’t become an outdoor cyclist suddenly. So, I’ll take whatever benefit (and there’s always a benefit) and enjoyment I get from spinning indoors.

Don’t let anyone convince you that you have to do a specific exercise for it to be worth it. Find what you enjoy. Discover what works for your body, whatever it’s abilities. Figure out a way to do it regularly and safely. That’s it. So simple.

Nicole P. enjoyed her Sunday run with glorious mid-August weather and is hoping you enjoy whichever movement you choose to do this week.

3 thoughts on “Is running or swimming or cycling better for you?

  1. While I agree with your thinking in principle, I will say that sometimes it takes a while of sticking with something you don’t really enjoy to become good enough that it becomes enjoyable though. That’s what happened to me with running. I’d always liked the “idea” of running but I didn’t really enjoy doing it myself until I’d done it for quite some time and in fact, I had several false starts with it – taking it up, then stopping again – until it stuck and it started coming to me more easily. So yes, of course the best exercise is the kind you love. But there’s something to be said for a bit of persistence sometimes 😉

    1. That makes sense, Bettina. I used the Couch to 5K as an example but, of course, with persistence, a person may end up loving it. But if they don’t, it’s never going to be better than something they do enjoy. It’s the whole one sport vs another. Or, is HIIT really better for you than endurance training. They all have their benefits. Especially if you enjoy doing them and will do them. Yay, for eventually enjoying running!

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