Aerobic exercise in water versus walking on land: effects on indices of fat reduction and weight loss of obese women

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2006 Dec;46(4):564-9.


Aim: It has been suggested, that water exercise is less effective than weight-bearing exercise on land for body fat reduction.

Methods: To test this hypothesis 38 middle-aged obese women (25-47% body fat) participated in a 13 week exercise-diet program to compare the effects of aerobic exercise in water versus walking on land on indices of fat reduction and weight loss changes. Subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 exercise groups: 1) walking on land (WL), 2) swimming (SW) at 27 degrees C water temperature and 3) walking in 29 degrees C water (WW) at the shallow end of a declining pool with the water at navel height. Subjects in the SW group alternated breast-, side-, and backstroke swimming without face immersion. Exercise parameters were kept constant for all three groups. Subjects participated in supervised exercise sessions for 40 min, 4 times a week at 70% of age-predicted maximum heart rate. Subjects were tested before and after the 13-week experimental period.

Results: Significant reductions in body weight, (5.9 kg), percent body fat, (3.7%), and skinfold and girth measurements, occurred in all groups. There where no significant differences between groups.

Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that there are no differences in the effect of aerobic activities in the water versus weight-bearing aerobic exercise on land on body composition components as long as similar intensity, duration and frequency are used.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition* / physiology
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Water
  • Weight Loss


  • Water