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Home > News > What Are the Benefits of Cycling vs. Running?

What Are the Benefits of Cycling vs. Running?


Cycling vs. running
Running and cycling are classic hobbies and exercises that people enjoy around the world. They`re both forms of aerobic exercise that can be pursued outdoors, whether on city streets or nature trails.

In general, running burns more calories than cycling. But it`s also higher impact and harder on muscles and joints. So, which is better for you? That depends on your goals and how you go about achieving them.

1. Cardiovascular health
In terms of cardiovascular (cardio) health, both running and cycling are equally beneficial.

Aerobic activities help strengthen your heart so that it can pump more oxygen in your body. Doing cardio exercise, such as running and biking, teaches your heart to pump even more efficiently the rest of the time.

If you`re engaging in vigorous running or biking, you may need to limit your activities to no more than 60 minutes a day. According to an overview of multiple studiesTrusted Source, vigorous exercise more than 5 hours a week, or 60 minutes a day, can actually begin to have a negative effect on your cardiovascular health.

2. Calorie burn
The number of calories you burn in either exercise depends on the intensity and length of time you do it.

In general, running burns more calories than cycling because it uses more muscles. However, cycling is gentler on the body, and you may be able to do it longer or faster than you can run. You`ll also burn more calories if you`re running or cycling uphill for any portion of your exercise than you would if you were exercising on a flat surface.

Your age, weight, gender, and other factors determine your own baseline of calorie burning. Talk with your doctor to learn how many calories you should burn while exercising to reach your personal health goals.

3. Building muscle
Cycling can help you build muscle in your lower half. Running won`t lead to a lot of bulk, but it can help you develop stronger, toned muscles.

Pushing pedals while biking is resistance training that builds leg muscles. The top half of your body is also involved, but those muscles aren`t nearly as engaged as the bottom half.

Running uses all of the muscles at the same time and doesn`t engage them in a way that will build much bulk. However, your muscles and bones will get stronger from use and the impact of hitting the ground.


4. Toning muscle
Running may be better for toning muscles since it works your whole body and burns more calories. You`ll need to add some weight training and potentially change your diet if you`re wanting noticeable results.

The look of lean, toned muscles usually results from overall body fitness and low body fat. You cannot pick where your body gains or loses fat, but you can pick which muscles you build.

One studyTrusted Source found that working out four to five times per week was effective at maintaining muscle tone among active, aging adults. The key with toning is to exercise for a long amount of time without reaching muscle fatigue.

Running slower but for longer stretches may help you achieve a toned look.

5. Weight loss
To lose weight, you need to find the correct balance of calories in (not too many or too few) to calories out (burned through exercise and regular bodily functions). You may be able to lose weight more quickly by running. But if you cycle for long amounts of time, the calorie loss can eventually meet and exceed that of running.

The potential to lose weight by running or cycling depends on how you participate in the sport and how you combine it with healthy eating and other habits. While running does burn more calories on average, cycling is gentler on the joints, which might allow you to exercise longer and burn more calories overall.

One small studyTrusted Source found evidence suggesting both cycling and running suppressed appetite in young men. These activities could be helpful if you`re trying to control cravings and eat more balanced meals.

Talk with your doctor and a physical trainer if you have a specific weight-loss goal.

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