Biking and running are aerobic exercises that can greatly benefit a person’s health and fitness.
In this article, we compare biking and running for their capacity to burn calories, health benefits, injury risk, and cost.
The number of calories that cycling and running burn depends on several factors, such as speed, terrain, weight, and the person’s metabolism.
People who weigh more will burn more calories during either exercise, while those who weigh less will burn fewer calories.
The following table shows the approximate number of calories a male weighing 154 pounds (70 kilograms) would burn during cycling and running. Speeds are in miles per hour (mph) and kilometers per hour (km/h).
The table below provides an estimate of calories burned during 1 hour of activity for people of different weights. Weight is in pounds (lb) and kilograms (kg).
If a person wants to find out the number of calories they will burn for their specific weight for various activities, they can use a calorie calculator, such as this one.
Additionally, some people may be able to cycle for longer than they can run, which will also affect the number of calories they burn overall.
Cycling uses all the major muscle groups. It uses and builds up the leg muscles in particular, including:
- quadriceps (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius)
- hamstrings (biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus)
Some of the key muscles involved in running include:
Running and cycling both bring heart health benefits.
Regular cycling reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and helps:
- improve lung health
- stimulate circulation
- strengthen heart muscles
- lower resting pulse rate
- reduce levels of fat in the blood
A large-scale study on 263,450 participants found that cycling to work reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality. The study also found that walking to work lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Another study found that cycling was beneficial for people recovering from stroke and helped improve heart rate recovery after exercise.
Running also helps improve cardiovascular health. A 2019 review found that running reduced the risk of cardiovascular, cancer, and all-cause mortality.
The research suggests any amount of running is more beneficial than no running, and higher doses of running may not significantly improve mortality benefits.
Even small doses of running, such as 5–10 minutes per day at speeds of less than 6 mph (9.7 km/h), can substantially reduce the risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
A 2018 study from the journal Circulation looked at the effects of long-distance endurance running on heart health. The study suggests that running a full marathon creates more strain on the heart than shorter distances, such as a half-marathon or 10K run.
A full marathon is 26 miles (about 42 km), a half-marathon is 13 miles (about 21 km), and a 10K is 6.2 miles (10 km).
Scientists need to do further research to investigate the long-term effects of long-distance running on the heart.
Running may be better for long-term bone health than cycling. This is