Is Biking Better Than Running for Weight Loss

Posted October 24, 2019 in Exercise, Weight Loss No Comments »
Is Biking Better Than Running

If you want to initiate a heated debate among your fitness-oriented friends (or gym buddies) just ask them is biking or running a better workout. Just get ready for some really imaginative and vigorous arguments. Indeed, both of those activities are really popular and really effective when it comes to achieving and maintaining physical health and form. But what we need to find out, is biking better than running for weight loss?

There are solid contentions in favor of both running and biking as a preferable exercise to lose some weight. It is not necessary to pick a side as you can easily do both simultaneously. However, if your working out regimen cannot fit both running and cycling into the schedule, there’s a tough choice in front of you. The purpose of this article is to state all the advantages and disadvantages of both running and cycling. Hopefully, this will make your choice somewhat easier.

Running Pros and Cons 

First of all, running engages more muscles, which means that the energy burn rate is higher. When you are running you’re not just using your legs, but also your core muscles and upper body help you remain balanced. Not to mention that running offers a lot of long term benefits. That’s only if it improves your cardio and makes you sweat out your calories, running also puts good stress on your body and helps prevent brittle bones and osteoporosis.

You’re also making your heart and metabolism stronger buy everyday running. Another great aspect of running that it is totally free. All you need is just a pair of good running shoes and determination. Running also doesn’t require any skill, it is a basic human motion everyone can do. Furthermore, it’s very easy to fit running into your schedule, as it doesn’t require anything but running shoes. 

On the other hand, running is frequently affiliated with injuries, and in most cases, the legs are those who pay the toll the most. Although running burns more calories per mile, it is not as efficient as biking when it comes to covering the distance. Also, if you are out of shape, running might prove to be too hard for you, and the impact you absorb while running can seriously affect your joints and muscles. Even the trained runners suffer substantially more muscle damage compared to cyclists.  

Biking Pros and Cons

The best thing about cycling is how low the impact it inflicts on the joints. Cycling is definitely more suitable to begin your fitness journey because it’s way less demanding. Riding is a perfect cardio substitute if you have an injured leg, but also gives you comparable calorie burn and cardio benefits while being a lot less taxing for your body. There are also several great was to train specifically to increase your stamina for cycling.

Even if you have excess weight, it will only slow you down while going uphill. On the flats, you can bike equally with the fittest, and downhill even more so. Covering big distances means you can see some amazing places, commute, day trip, backpack or anything you imagine. Biking also allows you to express yourselves creatively and show your personal flair, and it’s never been easier now that there’s a possibility to order bicycle parts online

Concerning the hunger suppression, an hour on bike equals an hour running. but it’s way easier to achieve the former one. There are a couple of things the biking absolutely beats running in, and those are downhill and coasting. It’s extremely rewarding to reach the summit of a mountain and then fly downhill without touching the pedals.

On the other hand, the running version of coasting is called ‘standing’, which does nothing for you, and running downhill is harder than uphill. Ultimately, biking is something you can do your whole life, even if you can’t walk properly. There are even people over a hundred years old that still cycle regularly. It is as close as we get to a lifelong sport.  

The most prominent disadvantage when riding a bike is the cost. While running is rather undemanding financially, biking requires a hefty investment. The bike and equipment, including spare parts, tools, bike gear, and an endless variety of components will squeeze out a pretty penny from your pockets. If you’re not sure would you like to try on biking, consider renting a bike then decide you would like to invest or not.        

Health Benefits Comparison

We’ve measured the pros and cons of both cycling and running, and now it’s time to pit them against each other in a battle that will decide which activity is more beneficial for weight loss. 

healthy couple running


Running and cycling are pretty equal concerning burning calories in similar circumstances.

However,  similar to all workouts,  the number of calories correlates greatly with the magnitude and continuance of the workout.  If you want to increase the number of calories you spend, you need to increase the difficulty of your workout.  For example, you can go uphill, increase the speed, or try high-intensity interval training.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average person can burn 300 calories in 30 minutes of running at 7,5 kph or 30 minutes of cycling at 17-20 kph. Generally speaking, running burns more calories because it uses more muscles, but cycling is is kinder on the body, so you can do it longer and faster than running. Also, you can add difficulty to your usual routine if you’re going uphill or speed up.

There is also something called baseline of calorie-burning, and it depends on your age, weight, gender in and other various factors. Consulting your doctor will determine how many calories you should burn during an exercise. All in all, biking and running are tied when it comes to calorie spending.


The best exercise for muscle building is above all strength training. Although you can build leg muscles while cycling if you don’t do anything but riding a bicycle you will primarily build muscular resistance, rather than volume. After a while, your legs will be like carved by Michaelangelo.  On the other hand, if you’re trying to build muscle mass by running, the recommended routine would be sprinting and shorter, faster runs.

Sprinting makes the body produce growth hormones that reside naturally in the body. Running won’t build you a lot of muscle mass, but your muscles and bones will be more sturdy from the activity and impact. However, that is not enough for running to take primate over cycling in the building of muscle mass. 

Weight Loss

If you want to lose weight, the rules are pretty simple: You need to spend more calories than you intake. Right now you probably realize the difference between simple and easy. Fortunately, both cycling and running can be implemented into a successful training regimen with the goal to burn more calories than you consume. Running will make you lose weight quicker, but if you cycle long enough the calorie loss will equal and even surpass the running one.

The weight loss also depends on your dedication and the way you combined exercise with meals. Despite running melts more calories, cycling is much more gentle, which means you can exercise for extended periods of time. Additionally, both running and cycling suppress appetite, so they can help you control your cravings for sweet and fatty food.   

Belly Fat 

We divided belly fat from the general weight loss because it is much harder to lose, and also easier to gain than the rest of the fat. Bad news for a start, you cannot spot reduce belly fat by doing exercise concentrated on the belly area. The only certain way to lose belly fat, like every other fat, is to burn more calories than you consume daily. Running and cycling can both help you in burning overall fat, therefore the belly too.

The most efficient fat-burning exercise is an interval training, and you can do it both with cycling or running. How does interval training look like? It starts with a 5-minute warmup, followed by a minute of full speed, full power exercise and two minutes of a lower intensity recovery workout. For the best results, you should repeat the cycle for or about half an hour. A good addition to running or cycling should be strength training. Building more muscle will boost your metabolic rate, which will, in turn, maximize fat burn.   

Heart Health

Like every other aerobic training, both running and cycling preserve your heart. By regularly performing cardiovascular exercise over your risk of many different calamities, including heart disease and high blood pressure. Out of those two, running is in a bit of an advantage, because the heart has to work a bit harder. However, just like the calorie-burning, your heart rate is determined by the intensity of your workout.

Injury Risk

If you’re looking for an injury-safe hobby in running or biking, you came to the wrong place. Both of those activities are associated with high injury risks. Cyclists are prone to hurting their necks, knees, sitting area, hands, and backs. And to think, cycling is more gentle out of two.

As expected, various running injuries are recorded in more than 2/3 of runners, including shin splints, runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis and more. In order to prevent these injuries is recommendable to run on a track or shock-absorbing treadmill.

As for cycling, mind the quality of your equipment and your form in order to avoid injuries. Also, don’t push yourself too hard for too long if you want your cycling career to last. If you are recovering from injuries and need a low impact workout, first get the clearance from your doctor before you start with any exercise.

Between biking and running, the former is a lower impact exercise, and it is more likely recommended for recovery, especially if you have near your joint problems. Biking greatly improves the range of motion and blood flow in the knee. 

So, Which is Better, Biking or Running?

With all this said, is it possible to say which exercise is better for overall health? The answer is still pretty vague. What we can say for sure is that both cycling and running are two of the most efficient cardio workout you can do. It is really up to you to decide whether cycling or running is better for you. You should take into consideration various factors, such as your health objectives, your budget, your health condition, injuries, and ultimately what type of workout you like to do more.

If you want a free workout you can do anytime and anywhere, which is beneficial for heart health and keeps your hands free, then the running is for you. On the other hand, if you prefer a faster motion, love great outdoors, like to sit during your exercise, hate running and love downhill coast, then biking is the right choice.  If your goal is to lose weight and burn calories, the best course of action is to perform internal training with either biking or running as the core exercise. If you have any other specific results in mind, you can hire a personal trainer, who can tailor a special training resume personalized especially for you.


Since running and biking are relatively balanced, the choice between them is up to your preference. Like with any exercise, is better to choose something you actually enjoy doing and want to keep doing. No one would blame you if you switched to running because you can’t enjoy cycling, and vice versa. Both of those exercises are great cardio boosters and doing them will gain you the same amount of endurance when done at the same pace.

Another thing, if you want to gain perseverance with doing your physical activity, you should start slow. If you set the goals too high and overexert yourself, you’ll begin hating the exercise because it’s too hard and soon you will start to find excuses for not doing it. The beginning is truly the hardest part of exercising, so you should feel prideful you are for the smallest feats. If you don’t give up your build your endurance and improve your physical condition with time and effort. It’s up to you to choose the workout that accommodates your lifestyle and preoccupations. 

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