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Biking Vs. Running: Which One Burns More Calories & Builds Endurance?

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Sometimes runners seem to think that their sport is the end all, be all, in the world of cardiovascular exercise. In actuality, that could not be further from the truth. In other words, it shouldn’t be biking vs running. You should embrace both. 

Cycling can have a dramatic effect on your performance, whether it is short – or long-distance running.

In purely physiological terms, bicycling and running share many of the same muscle groups, with an emphasis on quadriceps, calves, glutes, and hamstrings.

But where running is high-impact, cycling is low-impact, which means that it causes less stress to your joints. So, if you have knee, hip, or ankle pain, give cycling a try.

Your joints will thank you.  

5 Benefits of Cycling

In the battle of biking vs running, there are so many health benefits to cycling. 

  1. No Impact: Biking is a no-impact activity so it is easier on your joints than impact exercises. 
  2. Great HIIT Workout: Jumping on a spin bike and taking a live class or using an app to guide you is a great way to get an excellent HIIT (high-intensity) workout. This is a wonderful way to cross-train and torch your metabolism.
  3. Muscles: Cycling uses many of the same muscles as running, but does engage them in slightly different ways. For a way to mix up your workouts, a bike is a great idea. 
  4. Beat the Heat: A bike is a good option when it is brutally hot out and you can’t get your workout in before the hotter parts of the day. I love my bike on those summer days when I have not managed to beat the heat. The movement of the bike helps keep you cooler than running.
  5. Endurance Builder: Sometimes our bodies do not want to keep adding mileage on. Cycling is a top option to help you build endurance without pavement pounding.

Is Running or Biking Better for Cardio & Weight Loss?

When it comes to cardiovascular health, they are equally as good for your body. Why is it important to do cardio?

Getting your heart rate up through regular exercise is great for your heart health. Aerobic exercise is recommended by the American Heart Association. Don’t delay – start today!

Even though biking vs running for cardio is equal, that is not true for calorie burn and weight loss. You will burn calories more quickly running. However, you can most likely bike for far longer than you can run.

In that respect, you may be able to move longer and burn a higher number of calories on the bike. 

How Much Biking is Equivalent to Running?

Most coaches figure a 1:3 ratio, with running at 1 and cycling at 3.

This is also assuming you are exercising at the same intensity level.

I started biking when I was injured a few years ago and could not run. I was surprised to find that it took me many more miles of biking to equal the same adrenaline rush I got from running.  

Once you get acclimated to biking and are doing it consistently and more frequently, you will find that you can accomplish a lot in less time than those not accustomed to biking.

Disadvantages to Cycling

The main disadvantage to cycling is that it is pretty expensive to get started.

First, you need a reliable bicycle. If you are doing serious training on the bike, you probably want a relatively nice one. Second, get yourself a good helmet. This is not an area to skimp. You only get one brain. To be honest, those are the only two things you really need. 

Many bikes have clip-in pedals that require cycling shoes. These clips allow you to both push and pull on the pedals. Cycling shoes are stiff and when you are clipped in, your muscles engage and help through the entire pedal rotation. They are worth the investment. 

Although some people will say this is not a “need,” I strongly encourage you to get cycling shorts. Sitting on a bike seat can hurt after a while. Cycling shorts make a huge difference. 

Protecting your eyes is also important. If you already have sunglasses, you are all set. Although a pair that wraps around at least a little is nice when biking. 

For longer rides, you will want to carry some water. You can get a water bottle and bottle cage for just a few bucks. You may also wish to carry a flat kit so you can repair your tire if you get a flat.

If you are training for a running race and cycle way more than you run, you will be caught unprepared. While cycling will help you build strength and endurance, as well as help you to get stronger, you do need to run to prepare for a race. 

How Long Should You Cycle for a Good Workout?

When trying to determine how long you should cycle for a good workout, it really does depend on your goal for the workout. Anyone who has taken a class using the Peloton app can testify that you can get a hella good workout in only 30 minutes. 

When trying to build your endurance, you might cycle for an hour or two. However, if your goal is HIIT training, the workout can be significantly shorter. 

In other words, there is no magical number. 

Is Biking Good for Runners?

Cycling can be a powerfully rejuvenating form of exercise when it comes to training for a race. If you wake up and are feeling sluggish, or if the thought of running is not an attractive one, you may be exhibiting the signs of overtraining.

A break from running can prevent injuries and keep you buoyant. Introducing new strategies for cross-training, such as bicycling, can keep you active and your routine varied.

And on those days when feeling reluctant to rest, or on evenings before a race, an hour-long ride at a moderate pace bike ride can keep your energy up, achieve your daily fitness goals, your mind at ease, and the muscles loose.

It can increase your performance by improving your stamina and endurance, without damaging your leg muscles.

If you are looking for a wonderful way to workout that won’t have you beating your body up, hop on a bike.

You will be glad you did. 

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