Running and Cycling are probably the most popular forms of cardio exercises. They’re both basic cardio workouts that are simple, fun and are enjoyed as hobbies by many people. However, quite frequently people question which one among the two is the better cardio workout to burn fat and for all-round fitness. This article will shed light on various aspects of these two cardio workouts including their benefits, similarities, differences, and suitability.
Running Vs Cycling: Similarities
Running and cycling are forms of aerobic exercises. It is important to note that aerobic and cardio are the same things and the terms are interchangeable. The only difference is the origin of the words. The term “aerobic” means “relating to or involving free oxygen.” As for cardio, the term has been derived from the Greek word “Kardia” meaning “of the heart.” It is also used as the short form for Cardiovascular exercises.
However, the aim of the two forms of exercises remains the same—improving fitness and endurance levels by increasing the heart rate and pushing the lungs to meet the increased demand for oxygen by the body.
Since running and cycling are both aerobic exercises, it involves major muscles groups during the cardio workout. This means major muscles are stimulated and put to work harder than they usually do. Putting the large muscle groups to work requires heart and lungs to pump more blood and oxygen to the muscles at work. In order to achieve the excessive need for energy, these types of cardio workouts use the stored fats and carbohydrates in the body in the form of calories. This is the reason why experts recommend 150 minutes of cardio workouts each week in order to lose weight and stay fit.
Benefits: Cycling and Running are equally beneficial. These are two different cardio workouts but have the same benefits. They both are great cardio workouts for improving overall physical fitness. Experts suggest that cycling and running, both have similar effects on physical fitness.
Both are equally good for improving cardiovascular health. The science behind it explains how it makes the heart stronger. At the same time, both are excellent choices to strengthen the respiratory system, particularly functioning of the lungs. Cardio exercises such as running and biking improve how efficiently the heart and lungs pump oxygen and blood to the body.
Running Vs Cycling: Differences
In general, running and cycling look and feel very different. The benefits might be similar, but it may differ from individual to individual. So, here are a few differences between the two most widely-loved cardio workouts.
The major difference between the two is in the movement.
Cycling is the activity of riding a bicycle. It can be either performed outdoors or in the gym on a stationary bike. Cycling involves major muscles of the lower body. On the other hand, running is an activity of moving rapidly on foot. Just as cycling, it can be either performed outdoors or indoors on a treadmill. However, the difference lies in the involvement of muscles. Unlike cycling, running uses the power of every muscle in your body. It is a great full-body exercise.
Effect on the body:
Cycling is comparatively a low-impact workout when compared to running. It causes less pressure on joints and muscles, which makes it an effective and great cardio workout for anyone who has just started to exercise or people with injuries and joint problems. It is easy to incorporate in daily routine. As for running, it requires a lot more effort and can result in muscle soreness and damage. There are chances of injuring the knees, ankles and, the risk of falling.
Cycling is gentler on joints, which is why it is one of the best cardio workouts for people with injuries and it is easier to perform it for a longer time. When it comes to running, it can hurt after a certain point of time and may feel like the more challenging one among the two.
Calculating Calories Burned During the Two Different Cardio Workouts:
In general, running is said to burn more calories than cycling simply because it involves all the muscles of the body. However, it is important to remember that the number of calories burned during cycling or running depends on various factors like the intensity of the workout and the time spent performing the workout. Other factors contributing to this comparison are the distance and body weight. The energy consumed by the muscles during cycling is less than the energy consumed during running.
Equipment and Cost:
Cycling can prove to be more expensive than running. Cycling needs proper gear and a sturdy bike which can be costly for anyone with a budget constraint. However, running only requires training shoes with good grip. Therefore, running is a cost-effective cardio workout.
Running Vs Cycling: Which Cardio Workout is Good for You?
Now that you are familiar with various benefits and the impact on the body, it is important to determine which one of the two cardio fitness workouts are best for you. As mentioned earlier, cycling and running are equally beneficial, but the purpose and its usefulness may be influenced by several factors.
For Muscle Building:
If your aim is to build muscles, either of the workouts is not enough. Cycling can help you build muscles of the lower body and the impact can be felt in the lower part of the upper body. The rest of the muscles are not completely engaged, which makes it more useful for developing glutes, quads, and hamstrings. As for running, there is no way it can help you bulk up, no matter how intense the training is. Running uses all the muscles of the body but does not contribute much to build them. It is a simple cardio workout that helps in mildly toning and strengthening the bones and the muscles.
For Fat Burning:
Experts suggest running is the better cardio workout for burning fat and calories. Running is the faster way to burn calories. Since it uses all the muscles, the amount of energy expended by the body in the form of fat is more than used during cycling. Hence, the amount of fat burned by running is significantly higher than cycling.
For Losing Weight:
By now, we have established that running is the faster way of killing the calories. Therefore, it is a much-preferred cardio workout for people who are struggling to lose weight. Nonetheless, if you cycle for a longer period of time, it is possible to meet the number of calories burned by running. There is no one way to lose weight. The number of calories burned while running depends on the time spent running, your speed and the body weight. The faster you run, the more calories you burn. The more you weigh, the longer you need to run to accelerate weight loss process.
When it comes to cycling, you need to cycle faster and longer to lose weight. Incorporating either of the exercises to your daily fitness routine will help you burn calories necessary for weight loss. However, it is important to combine these simple cardio workouts with other forms of strength and weight training for effective results. Besides, you need to maintain balanced eating habits to complement your fitness regime. Without all of this, achieving weight loss goals with cycling or running alone is impossible.
Working out with medical conditions:
If you have health issues, like joint pains or obesity, running may not be an option for you simply because it creates pressure and impact on joints and muscles. The longer and faster you run, the more are the chances of hurting and muscle soreness. Whereas, cycling is easy on joints and muscles making it a gentler and safer option for people with weak joints and obesity. Though, people with lower back pain are advised against cycling for longer periods.
Neither cycling nor running is better than the other. Both are good cardio workout routines. Nevertheless, it is important to understand which one fits perfectly for your lifestyle and goals. Whether you pick running or cycling, it is important to stay dedicated and practice regularly. Don’t forget, achieving specific results take time and discipline.
Other Top Cardio Workouts
Besides running and cycling, the best types of cardio workouts for weight loss and staying fit are jump rope, elliptical, swimming, rowing, stair climbers, and High-intensity Interval Training. A combination of two or three of these can help you attain your target, whether it’s staying fit, building endurance or losing weight.
Cardio workout is one of the most important parts of fitness routine. There is no one exercise that is perfect, but it is important to figure which one is challenging yet safe and enjoyable for you. At the same time, it is important to keep your nutrients high and eat foods rich in fiber to maintain good health and fitness levels.
Disclaimer: All exercise should be done under the supervision of certified professionals or if any medical condition exists, please do seek the advice of the physician to proceed with this exercise.