Deep water running vs land running

The verdict is in, Fluid Running is as good for you as land running, and often it’s even better. 

Deep water running vs. land running

We get a lot of runners asking us about Fluid Running.  The questions generally go something like this: “Do I get the same benefits from Fluid Running as I would from land running?”  “Does Fluid Running count the same as a land run?”  “How can I count my miles in the water?”  “Will my land running suffer if I Fluid Run?” “Is Fluid Running only for injured runners?”

These are all excellent questions.  Let’s clear the air and set the record straight.

What are the benefits of deep water running vs. land running?

Fluid Running gives you all of the benefits of land running and more because Fluid Running mimics land running form.  As a result, you are making almost the same running motion in the water as you are on the ground.  Consider this analysis from a study published in Military Medicine. “With deep water running (DWR), land running is simulated as closely as possible except for weight-bearing. Therefore, DWR has potentially greater specificity for maintaining run performance compared with other alternative forms of exercise.”

Does deep water running count as a land run?

When deep water running (sometimes referred to as aqua jogging), using the Fluid Running form, your workout counts as a run, not as cross-training or as an easy day.  Because as noted above, you’re firing all the same muscles in the water as you would on land. Plus you get the added benefit of engaging your core, stabilizer muscles, shoulders, and arms which are all forced to work hard when running in deep water.

How can I count my miles when I deep water run?

You can assume you’ve run the same distance in the water as you have on land if your effort, as measured by heart rate, is the same in time and intensity.  In other words, if you run seven miles on land in an hour at a heart rate of 135, then deep water running utilizing the Fluid Running form for an hour, at the same heart rate (adjusted for the effect of hydrostatic pressure) equals a seven-mile land run. 

Will my land running suffer if I deep water run?

Quite the opposite.  The Fluid Running form is sport-specific.  That means that your form in the water is nearly identical to your form on land minus the impact.  Studies that compared land running to deep water running, or aqua jogging, showed that those who had been deep water running had greater cardio output and Vo2 max which resulted in increased performance when land running.  Water is 800 times denser than air therefore, your muscles must work harder. That strength translates to better performance on land.  

Is deep water running only for injured runners?

While it’s comforting to know that injured elite athletes and even injured racehorses have realized the benefits of deep water running for a long time, it’s not an exercise limited just to them. The gains that result from Fluid Running, namely increased cardio endurance, strengthened muscles, and overall body conditioning are available to everyone.

Are there other movements in a Fluid Running workout?

Fluid Running workouts are running based however, several other movements are weaved in to challenge different muscle groups and keep the workouts engaging. While the “cross-country ski” motion might not be sport-specific, it may actually work leg muscles even more than running because the longer, extended leg creates even more resistance than running. Some of our app-based Fluid Running H2Go workouts, like Run With A Pro and 10K Run, are running focused and may appeal more to runners in training.


Whether you are a runner, were a runner or want to be a runner, Fluid Running is a great workout for you. Running in deep water builds strength, cardio and endurance without the wear and tear on your joints. In so doing you will be able to train harder and run longer without pain.

Additional Resources

Shopping Cart