Running is becoming the most popular exercise in America. Thirty million people in the US alone run two to three times a week, many of them doing nothing to maintain their health and fitness levels. On the other hand, cycling is still considered an elitist sport. Theories believe that this may be due to running requiring less equipment than cycling, and it typically is cheaper for people who can’t afford the expensive gear. Either way, these two types of exercise are used by many to stay fit.
Table of Contents
- 13 Differences between Cycling and Running
- Let Try Other Forms of Exercise as well
13 Differences between Cycling and Running
The Basic Difference
The bicycle is one of the most popular modes of transport. It is primarily used for recreational, commuting, and competitive cycling. People cycle for their leisure enjoyment, to get from place to place, or for recreation in many places worldwide. They also cycle in order to exercise their bodies and minds by combining it with lifestyle choices such as freewheeling or not using a car when they can. Some people even use bicycles as part of a low-profile means of transportation not seen in most parts of the Western world.
Running is one-way athletes can improve the strength and endurance in their lower body muscles which are critical to performance on court or field. Running is also an excellent aerobic exercise in addition to the muscles needed in other sports. The longer one runs, the more one can potentially increase cardiovascular health and endurance. The body uses oxygen in order to burn energy with each step one takes.
Efficient Way of Transportation
Cycling on the road is a more efficient way of transportation compared to running because you use less energy. Cycling is more economical as you can use the money for other things. One advantage of cycling is that it helps us save money as opposed to running as some people feel it’s expensive to buy a pair of good running shoes. In the long run, the cost of riding a bike is more worth it compared with the amount of money one can spend on running shoes. Keep in mind that people already have shoes and clothes they can wear when carrying out their routine activities like walking, jogging, or even hiking.
Running for most is a means to an end – a form of exercise. That’s not to say there aren’t runners who love the actual act of running, though. Truly anyone can run regardless of their age, sex, size, or shape. This is because you can do it virtually anywhere, and gyms are plentiful, so it’s always accessible to you regardless of your experience, location, or time constraints. It is truly one of the only forms of exercise that you can get out and do right away if needed! You can literally pick up your keys, and boom- you’re on your way.
On the other hand, cycling is a sport that requires a bit more setup. You could ride a bike you already have, but it may not be safe for riding outside. Many people choose to buy a new bike because it can make you feel more comfortable and confident when riding. You may also need to purchase the appropriate clothing and gear to ride safely in various weather conditions. It is best to research bicycle safety before setting out for your first time as well because there are rules of the road that need to be followed as well as techniques that you may learn from an experienced rider or coach.
Running is a significantly better aerobic exercise for your heart. One study showed that running, but not cycling, increased the thickness of blood vessels and heart contractility, which can help prevent atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases. By running, the thickness of the inner part of the heart’s major blood vessel, the left anterior descending artery, increased 18%, while it increased by 8% by cycling. The study also showed that peak oxygen uptake only increased 6.4% after running for 6 months, while it remained unchanged in the cycling group.
Cycling burns more calories than long-distance running for the same distance covered because it provides a lower intensity workout than running does. Cycling takes the win – often by a significant margin. One study found that cyclists burned an average of 10 calories/minute at a moderate pace for 60 minutes (~700 calories), while runners considered “average” burned closer to about 8-9 calories/minute at moderate speeds (~560-580). Another study found that cyclists burned around two calories/minute, while runners burned 1.5-1.7 calories/minute when averaging 5 mph (~245 calories) and 3.5 mph (~342.5). Pedaling can also burn more than running: one study found that spinning at a moderate pace for 60 minutes burned ~725 calories versus ~570 for running, and another found that at a moderate pace, biking burned an average of 9.3 calories/minute versus 6.9 for running (705 versus 528 total, respectively).
While some studies have shown that running burns more calories for the same distance, a recent review of studies on the issue published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that cycling burned more calories than running did. The difference was relatively small, between 97 and 139 calories per hour. All of the studies reviewed measured calorie burn using indirect calorimetry, which measures oxygen consumption from which calorie burn can be calculated.
While they may not be as intuitive as runners, cyclists tend to have pretty good bodies – and it’s not just because of the helmet hair. Cycling, as a concentric exercise (muscles contracting), helps to strengthen your quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, arms, and shoulders. Running is an eccentric activity (contraction while the muscle elongates), which means it’s mostly good for your calves and lower legs. So although running may make you faster on foot, cycling will make you faster on the bike.
Although cycling and running may not directly target the same muscle groups, both require pretty much all muscle groups to function. However, because cycling concentrates on the quads and glutes as well as the upper body – and because it’s an eccentric exercise (doing an exercise as you’re actively moving) – it helps to build those leg muscles. When one study compared cycling vs. running for those who were already somewhat fit, those who ran or biked for 30 minutes a day at a moderate intensity (55-65% of their max heart rate) improved their VO2 max by 12% and fat oxidation by 20%, relative to those who ran or biked at a high intensity (135-140% of their max heart rate).
In a study from LifeSpan, cyclists who performed high-intensity cycling at the end of the six weeks saw added mass in their legs and increased cross-sectional area in their quadriceps. In another study from Strength and Conditioning Research, cyclists who did two weekly sessions of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) at the end of the 8-week period gained lean body mass and lost fat mass compared to non-HIIT participants.
If you want to lose weight, cycling is a better choice than running and vice versa. In one study from the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, those who ran combined with resistance training lost more weight at six months than those who ran or did resistance training by itself. In another study, those who did cycling for just one hour a week burned 300 calories more per week than those who ran. It’s just a little-known fact that cycling helps you lose weight: studies find that 2,000 calories/day burned when riding a bike compared to when running (-1,200 calories/day). So the next time you go on a bike ride, pretend like it’s a workout. Chances are you’ll get more out of it than you would run.
Injury Risk and Pain Tolerance
While both running and cycling can be very risky sports, cycling poses significantly less risk of injury than running, with runners getting injured at a rate of 100.9 per 1,000 hours versus cyclists getting injured at a rate of just 10.5 per 1,000 hours (a difference of 9). The most common injuries for runners are inflammation and sprains; for cyclists, it’s ligament sprains. Although running and cycling both carry their fair share of problems, cyclists do significantly better than runners on injury prevention studies. For example, a study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that cyclists had 25% less pain and had 20% greater bone mineral density than runners. So if you’re having trouble staying injury-free after running, you may want to take up biking as it will help improve your odds of achieving your fitness goals down the road.
The one thing runners have going for them is that running tends to be less painful than cycling. One study found that while running significantly decreased pain threshold in both experienced runners and novice runners (with novices experiencing a greater decrease), cycling did not decrease pain threshold at all – it just got slightly more painful (-4%). Another study compared the changes in perceived pain response during cycling to changes during running.
Running is an isolating sport in which you face all of the perils alone, not to mention its reputation as an inapt training technique for team sports. Cycling, in contrast, provides the opportunity to chat with others in your biking community while building camaraderie through training. Moreover, when you do decide to transition into running (which many athletes eventually do), you will find that you are already well-used to roadwork and thus able to better handle the rigors of cross-country practice.
While runners like to think of themselves as natural-born riders (and they’re right), biking is way more convenient than running, especially for daily transportation (and airport travel). With cycling, you can quickly and efficiently pedal your way to any destination without having to worry about finding time to run at all, let alone worry about the weather conditions. That said, running does provide an added benefit of helping you learn how to be more efficient on foot – or, rather, less inefficient.
While you might think that lots of time spent on the bike won’t leave much time for other activities, you will find that if you ride your bike instead of running, you’ll still have plenty of time to do everything. In fact, a study from the Physiology of Sport concluded that “Increasing time spent cycling from 3 to 7 hours per week did not result in a change in several leisure-time physical activity behaviors or an increase in nonaerobic activities.” That said, if you did take up biking as a runner, you might do better at cycling.
If you want to get lean and strong, cycling can help; no doubt about it. But if your goal is to get really jacked and competitive at the next marathon, running will give you a much greater chance of success. If you’re just looking for a leg-and-glute workout that will help you lose weight quickly over the next six months, then cycling is probably going to be a better choice for you in that situation. However, it’s also important to remember that cycling is not an efficient way of getting lean; if your priority is body fat loss (or for anyone who has a significant amount of body fat), running will provide better results.
Let Try Other Forms of Exercise as well
Besides cycling and running, swimming and yoga are also popular forms of exercise. If you’ve never tried either, it can be tough to figure out which is the right one for you. There are some big benefits and different benefits between running and cycling, but there can be even more with swimming and yoga.
Swimming is a low-impact sport which means it’s a great option for injury victims who need to take things easy on their joints while still getting some cardio exercise in. Those who’ve struggled with injuries may find it beneficial to look into swimming as an alternative to running. Swimming is also a very low-cost sport compared to many others, so it may be a good option for those who prefer spending their money on other things. One of the main things about swimming is that there are so many different types of workouts you can do in the water, which makes it an incredibly versatile sport. However, it also means that swimmers have to decide whether they want to compete or just use the sport for fitness.
Yoga can give a great workout and a great sense of achievement because it combines physical and mental exercise into one. Yoga’s main focus is on strengthening your core, which is the center of your body. This makes it an incredibly good workout for those who rely on using their core in their everyday lives.
Is it better to cycle or run?
Cycling and running are two of the most popular forms of cardio that people do. Cycling and running both have their own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to understand which one is best for you. If we’re speaking in terms of becoming a better runner than cycling, then it would be better to run than cycle. Running requires more endurance and strength than cycling does because you need to use the muscles in your legs to push against the ground with each step. This will develop stronger leg muscles over time which will make running easier because the power required from your legs will be lessened each time you need to take a step. Cycling is a great way to build large leg muscles, but if you’re going to use those muscles for running, then there’s no point in them being as big as they are because it will just weigh you down.
The main thing to take from this is that cycling is a really good exercise for resistance training and gaining leg power. If you have extra time and can cycle instead of the run, then it would be more beneficial for you to do so. However, if you’re looking towards bettering your running skills, then running should be more on your mind than cycling.
Are 30 minutes of cycling a day enough?
Cycling is a way to stay in shape and to improve your endurance. 30 minutes of cycling a day can be very beneficial for you, but it really just depends on the intensity that you’re going at. If you have a bike that has gears, then I’d recommend going on high gear and pedaling as fast as you can for as long as you can. This will improve your endurance so that you’ll be able to cycle longer distances before taking breaks. If you have really good form on your bike, then it would be best if you cycled on flat land so that your muscles would remain stretched out and work harder with each rotation of your legs.
Can cycling replace running?
Most of the benefits of cycling come from your leg muscles working, although there are a few other benefits as well. Cycling is a great exercise for your back, abs, and arms because you’ll be leaning forward to balance yourself while pedaling. This will work out all of those muscles in your core that aren’t often used in the running. You can also run with a dropped seat which is easier on your knees and hips. A dropped seat can reduce strain on those parts and open up your hips more than a raised seat does.
Is cycling harder than running?
This is a question that many have been wondering about, and the answer is not as simple as it may seem. Cycling can be difficult because of the gear involved in riding a bike. There’s the actual bicycle that you have to steer, as well as your leg muscles. In contrast, running can be much easier for those who are just beginning since there’s no equipment to contend with and only one set of muscles being used during any given segment of a run. Cycling requires more coordination than running, which makes it more challenging for those who don’t have a lot of experience or coaches available during their training sessions.