Running vs Cycling: Which Is The Better Workout?

Post Type

Whether you’d like to lose weight, burn fat or build muscle, you’ll want any workouts that you embark on to deliver results. Running and cycling are perhaps two of the easiest and most popular forms of exercise to do, but which one is better?


Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons depending on what you want to achieve:

Losing Weight

In order to lose 1lb of fat you need to drop around 3,500 calories and although calorie-controlled diets help, burning them off with exercise is the healthiest and fastest way to lose weight.


The amount of calories burnt while running or cycling depend on your starting weight, fitness levels and the intensity of your exercise, but as a general rule, for a person weighing around 180lb:

  • 10 minutes of moderate cycling will burn around 100 calories
  • 10 minutes of moderate running will burn around 149 calories


Running is hands-down the best workout for weight loss. However, it’s easier to ride a bike for longer periods and maintain intensity for the duration. If you’re short on time, running wins but if not, cycling may produce better results.


Result: Draw

Building Muscle

Gaining muscle requires a diet rich in protein and an exercise regime that includes some form of resistance, either through using your own body mass or additional weights.


To ride a bike in any environment you rely on the lower body to power your wheels and drive you forward.Similar muscles are used for running but the force required to power a bike is higher. As a result, both forms of exercise can gradually build muscle in your calves, thighs and glutes but you’ll notice a difference much more quickly with cycling.


Result: Cycling

Improving Health

Any form of exercise that gets your heart rate up is good for your health, but both running and cycling have their downsides.


New and experienced runners are both likely to experience common injuries, often caused by ill-fitting footwear or over-exertion at some point, including pain in the kneecaps, Achilles, shins and arch of the foot, which all impede the ability to run and maintain a workout.


The most common cycling injuries are caused by ill-fitting bikes or rider positioning which can trigger pain in the back, neck, knees and Achilles. However, the biggest risk to cyclists is actually road traffic. In 2014, 21,287 cyclists were injured, 133 of them fatally on Britain’s roads.


Cycling is a lower impact form of exercise than running and therefore better for overall health, but the risk of severe injury can be higher.


Result: Draw


Of course, looking at the pros and cons of different types of workout means more than looking at the results they can generate. Being successful comes, in part, down to how easy they are to fit into your lifestyle and your budget.

Lifestyle Changes

To take up running or cycling, you just need to step outside. There are no costly gym memberships or class times to stick to, making them both relatively easy to incorporate into your lifestyle.


However, this means making time for either form of workout and when you’re busy, maintaining an exercise regime can be difficult and this is where cycling has the edge.


Take the daily commute. Few people live close enough to the workplace to be able to run there, and even when that’s possible, the need to carry a change of clothes and work items in a backpack add weight to the run to make it more challenging.


With the ability to cover greater distances at speed, cycling can easily replace the regular commute and kit like panniers make carrying a change of clothes and any other essential items, easy.


Result: Cycling 

Calculating the Costs

As already mentioned, runners and cyclists need quality, well-fitting footwear and bicycles to reduce the risk of injury.


No matter how hi-tech your running shoes, they will never cost more than a quality bike and from a financial point of view, running seems a clear winner.


Unlike top-end running gear, a top-end bicycle like a GT road bike will hold its value and act as an asset in the long-term.


Result: Running, but only just.


Ultimately, any form of workout is better than none so choose one and get out there!


You can get advice on the right running gear from experienced personnel at most high-street sportswear outlets, or find the perfect bike for your new workout regime, online or in person, from the specialists at Formby Cycles.


About The Author

Following the birth of his son in 2009, Paul was unfit and sluggish. Since then he's been training using a range of exercise techniques and gained some valuable information over the years. Events he has completed to date are Total Warrior, Pier To Pier, Bamburgh 10k, Hamsterley 10k, Blaydon Races, Newcastle Stampede and over 50 parkruns. In 2012 he created his own challenge called the '12 Days of Christmas.' He raised over £1000 for Percy Hedley by running 60 miles to celebrate their 60 years. In 2013 he ran the '12 parkruns of Christmas' with friend Lee Nyland. The pair raised over £1400 for the Tiny Lives Fund.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *