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If you want to start exercising then you may be wondering what the difference between biking vs running is. Both are great ways to get fit but which one is right for you? Well, that’s what we wanted to find out here. We’ll break down the pros and cons of cycling vs running and look at some key areas where they are different.
This includes whether running or biking will make you more fit, which one is better for fat burning, which is easier on your body, and the effect on your muscles. We’ll also answer some running vs biking FAQs to give you all the info you need. Let’s get started!
Fitness and Heart Health:
When it comes to gaining fitness and improving your heart health, the two disciplines are very similar. Both will get your blood pumping and improve your cardiovascular performance. They are aerobic activities that will work wonders for your body.
It’s also worth noting that there isn’t one way to cycle and one way to run. You can cycle with very little effort and also run at a very low speed. With both exercises, you’ll have to push yourself to get the most out of them.
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To gain fitness, you want to get your heart rate between 50-85% of its maximum. The maximum is 220 beats per minute (bpm) minus your age. For a 40-year-old, this means you’ll want to get your heart rate between 90 and 153 bpm.
Generally, running is seen as better for fat burning. The truth, however, is calories burned running vs biking is a bit more complicated. The reason is that running a mile will almost always take up more calories than cycling a mile. Running is more of a whole-body workout.
But what if you’re cycling uphill in a high gear? That would take huge effort and allow you to burn calories extremely quickly. That general rule also doesn’t factor in that cycling a mile is easier, so you’re likely to cycle much further than you’d run.
So the answer to biking vs running calories isn’t simple but if you only had half an hour to exercise and wanted to burn as many calories as possible, running is probably your best bet. While that’s true, the bike is still a great fat burner.
Your Body and Your Safety:
If you have issues with your knee or ankle joints, then cycling is going to be the best option. You don’t have that impact on each of your strides and all of your upper body weight is going to be resting on the seat. There is no doubt that cycling is easier on your body.
You do also have to factor in that cycling is more dangerous. You’ll be traveling at faster speeds and a lot closer to vehicles. If you live in a busy city, these risks increase. If you live near well maintained cycle paths, it’s less of an issue.
Effect On Your Muscles:
If you want to build up big muscles, then neither option will be great for you. The only exception is if you only ever did sprint cycles on your bike using high gears. This is extremely exhausting and hard to do when not in a controlled environment.
While not great for mass, when it comes to bike or running, both are great for tone. They’ll make your legs look great and both work many of the same muscles. Running can also work your core and your upper body, so it’s more of a whole workout.
In terms of recovery, it’s easier with cycling. Running will cause more muscle damage and therefore will need more time to heal.
Why Choose Cycling?
So both are great for fitness and burning calories but what sets them apart? Well as we’ve seen, cycling is easier on your body. If you’ve ever had an issue with your leg joints, then it’s best to move over to cycling.
A great aspect of cycling is also that it allows you to cover more distance. You get to see more of the world and have more of an adventure. Recovery time also takes less so you can get out there every day with no issues.
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Key benefits of cycling:
- Easier on your joints
- Covers more distance
- Less muscle damage
Why Choose Running?
While cycling has its key benefits, so does running. One key factor we’ve not mentioned yet is that running is cheaper. While you may want to get other gear, all you really need is some running shoes.
Running is also less risky as you won’t have to worry about having any accidents. Speeds are lower and you’ll be in safer environments. Running is also more sociable as you can chat away with a friend as you run. This can be done on a bike but is more difficult.
Key benefits of running:
- Cheaper form of exercise
- Less of a risk
- More sociable
Frequently Asked Questions:
How much cycling is equal to running?
One thing you hear when it comes to biking vs running is that one mile of running is equal to three miles of biking, a ratio of 1:3. In terms of time, it usually takes about three times longer to run a mile than cycling it.
There is an obvious point to make here. Some people cycle fast and others run slow. The ratio for you could be 1:2 or perhaps 1:5. Everyone is different so the real answer could be different for you.
Can cycling reduce belly fat?
Cycling is great for reducing your body’s fat content. Of course, this should only ever be done alongside a healthy diet. Cycling is a great way to burn calories, especially if you’re pushing yourself rather than coasting along.
Can cycling be a substitute for running?
It depends on what you’re aiming to substitute. If you wanted to train to run a marathon, then you need to keep running to get your body used to that discipline. For fitness and/or calorie burning, cycling can be a perfect substitute for running. It uses many of the same muscles and is a similar form of aerobic exercise.
Is cycling harder than running?
With biking vs running, it’s important to know that everyone is different. It’s hard to make specific claims but for most people, the opposite is true. Cycling a mile is usually much easier than running. It could be though that you’re a natural runner and simply find running a lot easier. Most people, however, would claim cycling is easier than running.
Is biking good for stamina?
Biking can be too easy sometimes. On a low gear on flat ground with a high-quality bike, you can travel long distances with little effort. If you wanted to work on your stamina and fitness, make sure to push yourself and provide constant effort. If you do, then biking can be great for stamina.
Is cycling bad for knees?
No, it’s not. If you have knee trouble and want to find a great way to keep fit, cycling is usually a great option. The reason is that you’ll be pushing down on your legs but with no jolting impact. The motion is smooth with usually means no knee pain at all. That being said, if you have a knee injury that hasn’t healed, cycling will still hurt.
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As we’ve seen, when it comes to biking vs running, it’s hard to give definitive answers but hopefully, we’ve given you a little more clarity here. Both are excellent ways to exercise and have their own benefits that you can enjoy.
For some, the bike comes naturally to them, others feel at home pounding the pavement. On the biking vs running debate, everyone will have their own preference. Try both and you’ll soon see which one you prefer.