Comparing walking and running vs cycling is inevitable. Some of my best friends are runners: they run about 5 miles – three times a week. My wife likes to walk. She walks with our neighbor almost every day, for about one hour. And I – like to ride on my cross country bicycle!
If you are looking for the best sports activity for you, the inevitable question arises: what kind sport is best for you? This debate is not new. Following an argument between the cyclists and runners, the first triathlon competition took place in California during the 70’s, to examine what sport is more difficult.
It is now known among professional athletes that there is no significant difference between walking, jogging and cycling. The comparison of running vs cycling is primarily significant for amateur trainees or for those who suffer from various medical problems.
Tip: If you're heavily overweight, cycling is a better weight loss solution than running
Whether you're running or cycling, the amount of calories burnt depends on the intensity of the exercise.
However, many sports experts agree that cycling is better for overweight and heavy-set individuals than running because these people tend to have weak and overly stressed joints from carrying all that weight around.
As a low-impact sport, cycling tends to be gentler on the joints and is a wiser weight loss solution for individuals hoping to shed loads of body fat.
Four Similar Characteristics for Cycling and Jogging
- Running vs Cycling - Aerobic training: Running, walking and cycling are all aerobic sports. During these activities, large muscle groups are active, and this requires intensive support from the heart, blood vessels and breathing, in order to pump blood with oxygen to the muscles.
Depending how intense the training is, these sports will eventually use fats and carbohydrates to produce the required energy. That is the reason why we need to train at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week to get the full effect of these sports on our body.
- Running vs Cycling - Improving physical fitness: when comparing running vs cycling, studies that were conducted among professional cyclists and runners have shown that there is no difference between their physical fitness. The meaning is that similar running, cycling or even walking training level results in similar physical fitness.
- Running vs Cycling - the effect on our health: Cycling, running and walking are all recommended activities for maintaining good health. They are all having similar effect on preventing diseases, such as heart diseases, cancer, diabetes and more. Choosing the type of sports for maintaining good health is a mater of location: apparently bicycling for health is more common in Europe, while running and walking is more wide spread in the US.
- Running vs Cycling - Similar weight reduction: there is no difference between the three types of sports for those who want to reduce their weight. When there is a similar training load, same heart rate and the same degree of subjective difficulty, we can expect biking calories burn rate to be similar to the calories that are burned while jogging, and walking.
Four Differences Between Running and Cycling
- Running vs Cycling - Calculate calories burned during exercise: The way we calculate the amount of calories that are burned during running, cycling and walking is different in each sport activity.
The amount of calories burned during running and walking is effected by two main factors: the distance the trainee passes, and his body weight. For example, if your weight is 150 pounds you will burn an average of 100 calories per mile.
The energy (calories) required while cycling is less affected by the body's weight. Instead it is affected by the cycling speed. When comparing walking and running vs cycling, the basic formula is: the amount of calories burned in three miles of cycling worth one mile of walking or running.
- Running vs Cycling - The impact on the joints: Body joints, especially the back and knees are functioning differently in these three types of sports. During cycling the pelvis is fixed on the saddle and our back is bent forward. This is not recommended for people suffering from back pain.
In walking and running, the pelvis is free to move, and the back is in its neutral position. Therefore running and walking are healthier for the back. From the other hand, during cycling the load on the knees is lower than while running or walking. Riding in low gear and fast pedaling will increase the flow of the inner joint fluids, and this will nourish all parts of the knee joint. I have to say here that my experience is different. I've never suffered from back pain while riding. From the other hand, I had a severe bicycling knee pain during my Rhine River tour.
- Running vs Cycling - The effect on the skeleton: while running or walking, the skeleton is carrying all the body's weight. The skeleton is serves also as a "shock absorber". As a result, the bone tissues are strengthening and this prevents osteoporosis. Therefore, running and especially walking are recommended for people suffering from a decline in bone density. In this case cycling is less recommended, since it applies smaller load on the bones and there is no much effect on the bones density.
The down side of running on the skeleton is that the shocks while running may cause adverse effects on bones, such as fragments.
- Running vs Cycling - Difference in load on the tendons and muscles: While cycling, the load on the tendons and muscles is lower than the load while running and walking, and the risk of injuries and tendinitis or muscle pain are lower. This is most important for bicycle riders who suffer from overweight. The advantage of running over cycling is that while running our body is stabilized by the ankles and pelvis muscles the joints, and therefore running (or walking) is highly recommended for better stabilization of the joints.
So: for people with overweight, cycling is safer and easier. For those who have normal body weight and like to strengthen the stabilizing muscles, running or walking are recommended.
Last Word About Running vs Cycling
Walking, running and cycling are all aerobic sports, and for the ordinary person their benefits, such as improving the physical fitness and health condition are similar. Choosing between these activities is a mater of self preference. Beginners, as well as those who have health limitations, should take into account the differences between walking, running and cycling and make the right selection.