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Cycling vs. Running: Which Form Of Exercise Is Better?


When it comes to choosing an exercise, there are so many options. It is easy to understand the benefits of training and building muscle even if you’re not a fitness expert. However, a suitable fitness program will also include aerobic exercise in the form of cardio training.

For a workout, strength training is excellent, especially when geared toward weight loss, but cardio will improve endurance, improve overall fitness, and burn more calories.

And in that, there are two common cardio training involve, i.e., running and cycling. Both are excellent ways to tone the body and get the endorphins flowing.

So, people always ask which one is best- cycling or running, well why don’t you go through this article and find out. We’ve sorted it out for you!!

Cycling vs. Running

Cycling and running are very similar:

  • You can complete a cycling round or a run either inside on a machine or outdoors.
  • They both get your heart pumping.
  • They can both burn your calories.

Running burns more calories than cycling, but it doesn’t mean that running is the winner. Since running is a high-impact workout, it is harder on your joints, while cycling is lower.

The Pros and Cons of Cycling:

  • Biking is an excellent cardiovascular exercise. It is gentle on the joints as well as promotes calorie burn and weight loss.
  • Energetic biking can be achieved indoors, like in a spinning class or on a stand-alone bike and in the great outdoors.
  • Also, biking typically requires some safety equipment when done outdoors. A helmet and gloves are recommended for all riders as best practice.
  • Those who are beginners may opt for knee pads or sport elbow until they get the hang of it.
  • Cycling can strengthen your core, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calf muscles, while it is not the same as anaerobic training.
  • With longer and energetic rides, muscular endurance is increased. In addition, biking has been found to protect the knees and joints from high-impact wear for those cyclists with knee pain or injury.
  • Road and mountain biking specifically often use a joined posture during the ride. That can lead to muscle imbalance, pain, hip tightness, discomfort, and rounding of the spine.
  • Without proper stretching and recovery, overuse can also lead to flaring of the Achilles tendon.

There are several options for outdoor biking based on your adventure and equipment level.

  • Road biking requires basic safety equipment.
  • Mountain biking will require a bike with bigger tires, a sturdier frame, and more protective equipment.
  • If you are more interested in a free, longer ride, then cruising may be your style.

The Pros and Cons of Running:

  • In runners, endorphins and energy both are high, and that is just common in them.
  • Whether running on a treadmill indoors or outdoors, running can be a great workout that makes you out in the field and into the fresh air.
  • Like biking, there are so many places to find running.
  • Trails, tracks, paths, and sidewalks all offer solid and safe surfaces to run.
  • Unlike cycling, safety equipment is not required to run. Just the right pair of shoes.
  • Based on the runner’s desired training abilities and duration, runs can vary in speed and distance.
  • According to research, shorter and faster runs can be great for increasing your cardiovascular and endurance capacity.
  • Many people would prefer shorter sessions of exercise over longer bouts. Still, you’ll have to push yourself to the upper limits during the shorter, more intense rounds to receive the benefits.
  • If you are a personal trainer or working with one, make sure you know everything about high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
  • Many studies show the long-term benefits of endurance running as well! For example, studies have shown that, after a year, habitual long-distance runners will generally see better results in reducing body fat percentage, reducing serum triglycerides, and lowered resting heart rates.
  • The great use of the legs and core during running can help strengthen the calf muscles, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core muscles. In addition, the entire body is used when running as the arms swing and upright posture are keys to efficient striding.
  • Like cycling, injuries are common with running, as the entire body is utilized. In addition, the impact caused on concrete and hard surfaces is very intense with running.
  • The constant and jarring impact of running can cause dysfunction in the feet, knees, ankles, and hips. If proper form and stride guidelines are not followed, patellar tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, ACL and PCL injury, and muscular imbalances can be caused.
  • These can be a result of overuse and improper muscle patterns or as a result of poor recovery.
  • Beginners should seek the assistance of a fitness professional to evaluate their run ad running pace for maximum safety.

So, which is better?

Well, there is not a proper answer to that. However, both cycling and running can be a great option to keep fit and healthy.

But, as the crucial factors in any exercise, you enjoy it, suit you, and stick with. So, if you try running and it does not suit you, go cycling, simple. And, if you can’t find your groove on two wheels, take up running.

As they both have many health benefits, let’s take a look at both of them:

Heart health:

Running and cycling are equally good and excellent when it comes to cardiovascular health. If you stick to either one of them, you’ll be more motivated to keep at it and get the benefits.
But don’t overdo it.

Both activities can strengthen your heart over time. Aerobic activities strengthen the heart to pump more oxygen into your body. Doing cardio exercises, such as running and biking, prepares your heart to pump even more efficiently the rest of the time.

Calories they burn

The number of calories that biking and running burn depends on speed, weight, terrain, and metabolism.
People with more weight will burn more calories during either exercise and vice versa.

Muscles used:

Cycling uses all the primary muscle groups. It uses and builds the leg muscles, including:

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings

Some of the key muscles used in running include:

  • Gluteus maximus, particularly when sprinting.
  • plantar flexors
  • quadriceps
  • hamstrings

Build strength in complementary muscles:

In running, you’re building specific sets of muscles to perform certain functions. Originally, you’ll be getting stronger, and you’ll feel great. But if your primary training is running, you’ll stop seeing results and get frustrated at some point.

Cycling uses different sets of muscles like your quads, core, and glutes muscles. These muscles complement those used for running and make you a solid runner. As a result, your efficiency improves and helps you run faster. Try biking uphill in big gear to build strength.

Toning muscles:

Running is excellent for toning muscles; it works your whole body and burns more calories. However, if you want noticeable results, you’ll need to add some weight training and potentially change your diet.
The look of muscular, toned muscles usually results from overall body fitness and low body fat.


Both cycling and running can benefit equally to a person’s health and fitness, particularly cardiovascular health.
If you’re a beginner to either, you can start slow and gradually build up strength and endurance to keep exercise enjoyable and sustainable.

People can choose the exercise that best suits their health needs and lifestyle or combine both to keep a different exercise routine.