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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 my cross-country bicycle!

If you are looking for the best sports activity, the inevitable question arises: what kind of 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 walking, jogging, and cycling are the same. 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

Running Vs Cycling

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, cy-->cling 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

  1. Running vs. Cycling - Aerobic training: Running, walking and cycling are all aerobic sports. During these activities, large muscle groups are active, requiring intensive support from the heart, blood vessels, and breathing to pump blood with oxygen to the muscles.

    Depending on how intense the training is, these sports will eventually use fats and carbohydrates to produce the required energy. That is why we need to train at least 30 minutes three times a week to get the full effect of these sports on our bodies.

  2. 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 to running, cycling, or even walking, training levels result in similar physical fitness.
  3. Running vs. Cycling - the effect on our health: Cycling, running, and walking are all recommended activities for maintaining good health. They all have a similar effect on preventing diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. Choosing the type of sports for maintaining good health is a matter of location: apparently bicycling for health is more common in Europe, while running and walking are more widespread in the US.
  4. 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, the 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

  1. Running vs. Cycling - Calculate calories burned during exercise: The way we calculate the number of calories that are burned during running, cycling, and walking is different in each sports activity.

    The amount of calories burned during running and walking is affected by two main factors: the distance the trainee passes and his body weight. For example, if your weight is 150 pounds, you will burn 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 number of calories burned in three miles of cycling worth one mile of walking or running.

  2. Running vs. Cycling - The impact on the joints: Body joints, especially the back and knees, are functioning differently in these three types of sports. The pelvis is fixed on the saddle during cycling, 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 neutral. Therefore, running and walking are healthier for the back. On 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 fluid flow of the inner joint, nourishing all parts of the knee joint. Here, 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.

  3. Running vs. Cycling - The effect on the skeleton: while running or walking, the skeleton is carrying all the body's weight. The skeleton also serves as a "shock absorber." As a result, the bone tissues are strengthened, preventing 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 a smaller load on the bones and has little effect on bone density.

    The downside of running on the skeleton is that the shocks while running may cause adverse effects on bones, such as fragments.

  4. 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 is lower. This is most important for bicycle riders who suffer from being overweight. The advantage of running over cycling is that our body is stabilized by the joints' ankles and pelvis muscles; therefore, running (or walking) is highly recommended for better stabilization of the joints.

    So: for people with overweight, cycling is safer and easier. Running or walking is recommended for those who have normal body weight and would like to strengthen their stabilizing muscles.

Books About Running Vs Cycling

More information about running Vs cycling can be found in several informative books. Take a look at these selected books:

Running Vs Cycling
Running Vs Cycling
Running Vs Cycling

Last Word About Running vs Cycling

Walking, running, and cycling are all aerobic sports; for the ordinary person, their benefits, such as improving physical fitness and health, are similar. Choosing between these activities is a matter 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.

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