They are arguably the two most popular forms of cardio exercise, both providing a full body workout. So, which is better for you? We’ve complied some discussion points that may help you decide.
There has been some research to suggest running might require your heart to work a little harder, but really, it’s going to be due to your own physical exertion and effort. Both, like other aerobic exercises, will help in protecting your heart from cardiovascular disease. When you are engaging in either of these exercises your heart is required to pump more oxygen in your body than usual and over time your heart is strengthened so that it can do this readily. It all comes down to the effort and time you are willing to put into both.
Cycling is a great way to build your quads and hamstrings – particularly when you are uphill biking or on a high resistance on a cycling machine. Running will also utilise these muscle groups but uses more power from your glutes, calves and inner thighs.
Cycling will strengthen your core and shoulder muscles as you need to balance your upper body on the handlebars. Running will also strengthen the above because of the need to keep your torso upright.
If you are looking to bulk up your leg muscles, cycling will work better due to the resistance. If you are just looking to strengthen and tone your body then you might be better off sticking mainly to running. The key with toning is to exercise for a long amount of time, so running slower but for longer periods is best.
Running generally will burn more calories than cycling however the number of calories you burn depends on a multitude of factors and it’s difficult to directly compare the two forms of exercise with regards to this. The number of calories you burn in either exercise depends on the intensity and length of time you do it as well as your own personal factors such as age, weight and diet. The differentiating factor will be the impact of the exercise and how long you can sustain the effort level. You may burn more calories on a fast-paced run however you might be able to go on a gentler cycle ride for five times the amount of time – its swings and roundabouts really.
What is consistent with them both is that if you are heading uphill, either being outdoors and heading up that dreaded hill or upping the resistance on your cycling machine/treadmill, you will burn more calories.
Compared to cycling, where your foot continuously moves in a circular motion bearing little weight, running is considerably more hard hitting. Each time your foot hits the ground it is absorbing the impact of your whole body. The likelihood of an injury will depend again on your personal factors, although generally running will lead to more overuse injuries than cycling.
The imminent danger with cycling is the chance of a road collision. Over half of all cyclists have reported that they have had an injury at some point on the road.
There are more practical considerations when considering taking up either as a long-term form of exercise. Cost wise, cycling will be more expensive due to the initial investment of a bike and things like a helmet and lights. Although depending on your budget a pair of running shoes can set you back a hefty amount too, and if you are concerned about the impact on your joints then you are going to feel the benefit of a higher end pair.
If you struggle with fitting in exercise to your daily routine you may find its easier to get in a quick run for a quick calorie burn as opposed to a longer cycle ride. If you were in a position to cycle to work then great, not to mention environmentally friendly!
The choice between the two will depend on your personal goals, as mentioned earlier each has different effects on the body. If you are of older age cycling might be a better choice due to the low impact on the joints, yet you may struggle with the balance more. If you are unsure then always consult a personal trainer for expert advice.
Really, it all comes down to personal factors and choice. Neither is generally on paper a better option than the other. Also, they are not mutually exclusive! Incorporating both into your fitness routine can in fact complement each other not to mention helping to prevent boredom. We have a great range of cycling machines and treadmills – check them out!