Cycling vs Running: benefits, disadvantages, similarities and differences

Cycling and running are two of the most popular cardio and aerobic exercises, each offering unique benefits to fitness enthusiasts. Cycling is a low-impact, non-weight-bearing exercise focusing on the lower body, making it gentler on the joints, whereas running is a high-impact, weight-bearing, full-body workout that can lead to greater calorie burn. Both biking and running activities contribute to weight loss, body shaping, improved cardiovascular health, and enhanced endurance and stamina, but they still share potential disadvantages like increased risk of injuries, joint and bone stress, and knee pain.

In a 2009 medical review led by Exercise Physiology Professor Grégoire Millet from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, it was concluded that while both cycling and running have unique physiological impacts, with specific adaptations in VO2max, anaerobic threshold, heart rate, and muscle recruitment, there tends to be more physiological training transfer from running to cycling than from cycling to running.

Cycling vs running, which is better? The short answer is both biking and running can be good because of their healthy benefits, the choice depends on one’s fitness plan and goal. In this article, we will compare the similarities and differences between cycling and running, including calories burned amount, muscles used, bone impact, cardio workout efficiency, heart health impact and heart zones, affected blood lactate level, power out value, the cost to start and maintenance, apparel and equipment requirements. With the detailed comparison of cycling versus running, you can choose the best one that fits your fitness workout plan.

Table of Contents

Benefits of cycling vs running

The benefits of cycling versus running include physical, psychological, and environmental. While the common benefits of cycling and running are aiding in weight loss, boosting mental health and brainpower, helping against anxiety and depression, improving sleep quality, and strengthening the immune system, they offer special benefits separately because of the unique features of biking and running activities.

Dr. Shashi Agarwal from Agarwal Health Center, East Orange, NJ, USA in a 2012 medical research mentioned that regular cardio exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, and stair climbing offer significant health benefits including reduced risks of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and depression, improved physical function, weight management, cognitive function, quality of life, and decreased mortality.

Common benefits of cycling and running

Common benefits of cycling and running are aiding in weight loss, boosting mental health and brainpower, helping against anxiety and depression, improving sleep quality, and strengthening the immune system.

  • Aids in Weight Loss: Both cycling and running are excellent for burning calories and promoting fat loss. They increase metabolic rate, making them effective for maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Boosts Mental Health and Brainpower: Biking and running activities stimulate the release of endorphins, leading to improved mood and cognitive function. Regular engagement in cycling or running has been linked to enhanced memory, problem-solving skills, and overall brain health.
  • Helps Against Anxiety and Depression: As natural mood lifters, cycling and running can significantly alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. The physical exertion combined with the focus required during these activities provides a form of meditative practice, reducing stress and enhancing mental well-being.
  • Improves Sleep Quality: Regular cyclists and runners often experience better sleep patterns, including quicker sleep onset and deeper sleep cycles. This improvement in sleep quality is attributed to the physical tiredness and reduction in stress levels brought about by these exercises.
  • Strengthens the Immune System: Engaging in consistent cycling or running boosts the body’s defense mechanisms. This regular physical activity improves the immune response, making the body more efficient at fighting off infections and diseases.

Special cycling benefits compared to running

Special cycling benefits compared to running are increasing muscle strength, flexibility, and stamina, enhancing balance, posture, and coordination, improving joint mobility and fortifying bone, promoting better lung health, strengthening defense against cardiovascular disease and cancer, alleviating fatigue, elevating sexual well-being, helping with pregnancy, extending lifespan, expanding the social circle, heightening spatial awareness and creativity, saving time, fostering quality family moments, allowing guilt-free snacking post-ride, and minimizing the carbon footprint.

  • Increases Muscle Strength, Flexibility, and Stamina: Cycling regularly builds lower body strength and enhances overall body flexibility and endurance.
  • Enhances Balance, Posture, and Coordination: It requires and thus improves physical coordination and balance while promoting good posture.
  • Improves Joint Mobility and Fortifies Bone: Regular cycling helps in maintaining joint flexibility and contributes to bone strength.
  • Promotes Better Lung Health: This activity increases lung capacity and efficiency, enhancing respiratory health.
  • Strengthens Defense Against Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: Cycling is known to improve heart health and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
  • Alleviates Feelings of Fatigue: It boosts energy levels and reduces overall feelings of fatigue.
  • Elevates Sexual Well-being: Improved physical fitness and circulation from cycling can enhance sexual health.
  • Helps with Pregnancy: It offers low-impact exercise beneficial for expecting mothers, with appropriate precautions.
  • Extends Lifespan: Regular cyclists often enjoy a longer life due to the extensive health benefits of cycling.
  • Expands Social Circle Through Cycling: Cycling clubs and events offer opportunities to meet new people and build friendships.
  • Heightens Spatial Awareness and Creativity: It requires navigational skills and can stimulate creative thinking.
  • Saves Valuable Time with Cycling: As a mode of transport, it can be quicker than driving in congested areas and combines commuting with exercise.
  • Fosters Quality Family Moments: Cycling is a family-friendly activity that can be enjoyed together.
  • Allows Indulgence in Guilt-Free Snacks After a Ride: The calories burned during cycling can justify a healthy post-ride snack.
  • Minimizes Carbon Footprint: It’s an eco-friendly mode of transportation that reduces environmental impact.

Special running benefits compared to cycling

Special running benefits compared to cycling are building muscular strength (particularly in legs and core), improving joint health and bone density through weight-bearing exercise, increasing lung capacity more significantly, promoting better sleep through more rigorous physical exhaustion, and improving self-esteem and confidence through measurable running achievements.

  • Builds Muscular Strength Particularly in Legs and Core: Running engages and strengthens a wide range of muscles, especially in the lower body and core area, more intensively than cycling.
  • Improves Joint Health and Bone Density Through Weight-Bearing Exercise: The impact nature of running stimulates bone growth and strength, improving bone density and joint health.
  • Increases Lung Capacity More Significantly: Running, particularly at higher intensities, challenges the respiratory system more than cycling, leading to greater improvements in lung capacity.
  • Promotes Better Sleep Through More Rigorous Physical Exhaustion: The high-intensity nature of running often leads to deeper and more restorative sleep due to increased physical exhaustion.
  • Improves Self-Esteem and Confidence Through Measurable Running Achievements: Achieving running goals, whether it’s distance or speed, provides a strong sense of accomplishment, boosting self-esteem and confidence.
Common benefits of cycling and running
Cycling vs running for endurance

Cycling vs running for endurance both emphasize the development of cardiovascular stamina, yet they engage the body differently. While cycling is a low-impact activity that can be sustained for longer durations without overstraining the joints, making it ideal for building endurance with less risk of injury, running, being high-impact, tests cardiovascular endurance and the body’s ability to withstand repetitive stress, often leading to a higher rate of perceived exertion. Consequently, cyclists may spend more hours training to achieve similar endurance levels as runners, who can reach their limits faster due to the higher impact and intensity of the activity.

In a 2016 original research led by Dr. Carolin Stangier from the Institute of Movement and Neurosciences at the German Sport University, Cologne, Germany, it was found that both cycling and running, when performed at about 52% of VO2peak, positively affect endurance performance in athletes, with no significant difference between the two in enhancing endurance capabilities.

cycling vs running for stamina

Cycling vs running for stamina both effectively build and enhance cardiovascular stamina, but they do so in distinct ways. Cycling allows for extended periods of exercise, gradually building stamina with less stress on the joints, making it suitable for longer training sessions at a consistent intensity. In contrast, running places more stress on the body, potentially leading to faster fatigue, and rapidly builds stamina by pushing the body’s limits in shorter time frames. Therefore, while both activities improve stamina, the approach and the physical demands involved differ significantly between cycling and running.

cycling vs running for heart health

Cycling and running for heart health both offer substantial benefits, but they do so in slightly different ways. Both cycling and running activities are excellent for improving cardiovascular fitness, reducing the risk of heart disease, and increasing heart rate variability. However, running can provide a more vigorous cardiovascular workout in a shorter period, potentially leading to quicker improvements in heart strength and efficiency. Cycling is gentler on the heart and can be sustained for longer durations, making it ideal for those looking to gradually build cardiovascular health without overstraining.

Disadvantages of cycling vs running

The disadvantages of cycling vs running mainly revolve around the higher risk of injury from road accidents and exposure to air and noise pollution for cyclists, and the increased likelihood of joint and muscle injuries due to the high-impact nature of running.

Common disadvantages of cycling and running

Common disadvantages of cycling and running are the risk of joint and muscle injuries, exposure to sun and dehydration risks, potential for back pain, the possibility of heart stress and related issues, and challenges related to weather and environmental conditions.

  • Risk of Joint and Muscle Injuries: Both cycling and running put significant stress on the body, leading to a higher risk of joint and muscle injuries. Running, with its high-impact nature, often leads to knee and ankle injuries, while cycling can cause muscle strain due to repetitive motion.
  • Exposure to Sun and Dehydration Risks: Participants in both biking and running activities, especially when done outdoors, are exposed to the elements, including harmful UV rays, increasing the risk of sunburn and skin damage. Dehydration is a common concern due to prolonged exposure and physical exertion.
  • Potential for Back Pain: Prolonged cycling can lead to lower back pain due to the bent-over posture while running can cause back pain due to the impact on the spine and possible muscle imbalances.
  • Possibility of Heart Stress and Related Issues: Intense exercise in both cycling and running can put significant stress on the heart, especially in individuals with pre-existing heart conditions, potentially leading to health complications.
  • Challenges Related to Weather and Environmental Conditions: Both cyclists and runners must contend with varying weather conditions, which can impact training schedules and performance. Environmental factors like air quality can affect the health and performance of athletes in both sports.

Special cycling disadvantages compared to running

Special cycling disadvantages compared to running are triggering lower and upper back pain, causing numbness, nerve damage, and artery compression, exposing muscles to cramps, loss, and injury, inducing piles, prostate, genitourinary, and urinary issues, decreasing bone density, elevating stress over the heart and causing headaches, exposing riders to injuries from road accidents, exposing to air and noise pollution, being expensive and time-consuming, being limited by distance and storage, concerns about bike theft, potential for self-doubt, loneliness, and monotony, and environmental concerns related to bike production.

  • Triggering Lower and Upper Back Pain: The cycling posture can lead to chronic back pain due to prolonged bending and neck extension.
  • Causing Numbness, Nerve Damage, and Artery Compression: Extended periods of cycling can lead to nerve compression in the hands and groin area.
  • Exposing Muscles to Cramps, Loss, and Injury: Repetitive cycling motions can cause muscle cramps and overuse injuries.
  • Inducing Piles, Prostate, Genitourinary, and Urinary Issues: The pressure from the bicycle seat may lead to discomfort and health issues in the pelvic region.
  • Decreasing Bone Density: Cycling, being non-weight-bearing, doesn’t strengthen bones as effectively as weight-bearing exercises.
  • Elevating Stress Over the Heart and Causing Headaches: Intense cycling can put excessive strain on the heart and cause tension headaches.
  • Exposing Riders to Injuries from Road Accidents: Cyclists are at a higher risk of accidents and injuries from traffic and road conditions.
  • Exposing to Air and Noise Pollution: Cycling in urban areas can expose riders to harmful pollutants and noise.
  • Being Expensive and Time-Consuming: Cycling requires investment in gear and maintenance, and training can be time-intensive.
  • Being Limited by Distance and Storage: Long-distance cycling requires planning, and bikes need secure storage spaces.
  • Concerns About Bike Theft: Cyclists often worry about the security of their bikes, especially in public places.
  • Potential for Self-Doubt, Loneliness, and Monotony: Long solo rides can lead to feelings of isolation and monotony.
  • Environmental Concerns Related to Bike Production: While cycling reduces carbon footprint, the production of bikes has environmental impacts.

Special running disadvantages compared to cycling

Special running disadvantages compared to cycling are increased risk of joint injuries and stress fractures, higher likelihood of muscle strains and overuse injuries, potential exacerbation of heart issues in certain individuals, risk of lower back pain due to impact, mental fatigue and burnout from rigorous training, risk of developing eating disorders, social isolation due to long training runs, and dependency on weather conditions for outdoor running.

  • Increased Risk of Joint Injuries and Stress Fractures: The high-impact nature of running significantly increases the risk of injuries to joints and the possibility of stress fractures, especially in the lower body.
  • Higher Likelihood of Muscle Strains and Overuse Injuries: Running often leads to muscle strains and injuries due to repetitive stress and impact on the muscles.
  • Potential Exacerbation of Heart Issues in Certain Individuals: Intense running can be challenging for people with pre-existing heart conditions, potentially worsening their health issues.
  • Risk of Lower Back Pain Due to Impact: The impact of running can contribute to lower back pain, particularly if the running form and surface are not optimal.
  • Mental Fatigue and Burnout from Rigorous Training: The demands of consistent and intensive running can lead to mental exhaustion and burnout, especially in competitive runners.
  • Risk of Developing Eating Disorders: There’s a higher risk of developing disordered eating patterns in runners who focus excessively on body weight and composition.
  • Social Isolation Due to Long Training Runs: The time commitment required for long-distance running can lead to social isolation, as training often takes up considerable time.
  • Dependency on Weather Conditions for Outdoor Running: Running outdoors is heavily dependent on weather conditions, which can disrupt training schedules and outdoor running plans.
Common disadvantages of cycling and running
Cycling vs running injuries

Cycling vs running injuries differ primarily in their nature and causes. In cycling, the most common injuries include road rash, collarbone fractures, and wrist or lower back pain, often resulting from accidents or prolonged static posture. In contrast, running typically leads to joint-related injuries like runner’s knee, shin splints, and stress fractures, primarily due to the repetitive high-impact forces exerted on the lower body.

Cycling vs running knee pain

Cycling vs running knee pain manifests differently in each sport due to their distinct mechanics. In cycling, knee pain usually arises from overuse, improper bike fit, or incorrect pedaling technique, often affecting the front of the knee. Conversely, running commonly leads to knee pain due to the high-impact nature of the sport, typically resulting in conditions like runner’s knee, where pain is felt around or behind the kneecap.

cycling vs running herniated disc

Cycling vs running herniated disc risks vary based on the nature of each activity. Herniated disc issues tend to be more serious in cycling, primarily due to the prolonged flexed posture that cyclists maintain, which can put excessive strain on the lower back and aggravate spinal discs. In contrast, while running does involve impact that can affect the spine, its upright posture and dynamic movement generally pose a lesser risk for herniated disc problems compared to the static, bent-over position in cycling.

Cycling vs running

Cycling vs running, though similar to cardiovascular exercises, differ in various aspects. Cycling tends to burn fewer calories than running for the same duration, but it’s gentler on the bones due to its low-impact nature, making it a preferred choice for those with joint issues. The muscle groups engaged differ: cycling primarily works the lower body muscles, whereas running is a full-body workout. In terms of cardio workout efficiency and heart health, both elevate heart rate but may engage different heart rate zones, with running often leading to higher lactate accumulation, indicating a more intense workout. Power output is more controllable in cycling. Cost-wise, running requires less investment with minimal apparel and equipment, while cycling can be costlier due to the need for a bike and associated gear. Cycling and running offer distinct benefits and challenges, making the choice between them dependent on individual preferences and physical considerations.

Cycling vs running Calories

Cycling vs running calories burned varies by several factors including intensity, duration, and individual effort, but generally, running tends to burn more calories than cycling for the same amount of time due to its high-impact, weight-bearing and full-body nature. The increased intensity and larger muscle group engagement in running lead to a higher caloric expenditure compared to the more localized muscle use, non-weight-bearing and lower-impact nature of cycling.

Below is the 30-min calories burned in general cycling and running under different body weight in both pounds and kilograms, based on the Metabolic Equivalent of Tasks(METs) method: Calories Burned per minute =MET value × body weight in Kg × 3.5/200.

Body Weight (lb/kg)Calories Burned in 30 min (General Cycling)Calories Burned in 30 min (General Running)
150 lb (68.04 kg)267.90285.76
175 lb (79.38 kg)312.55333.39
200 lb (90.72 kg)357.20381.02
225 lb (102.06 kg)401.85428.64
250 lb (113.40 kg)446.50476.27

Cycling vs running Calories

For instance, a 150 lb (68.04 kg) person in general can burn 267.90 calories by cycling in 30 minutes, while running, can burn 285.76 calories in the same period.

When changing cycling and running intensity, the calories burned per minute change, below is the comparison table of cycling and running burned calories in 60 minutes in different intensities, affected by speed. 

Body Weight150 lb (68.04 kg)175 lb (79.38 kg)200 lb (90.72 kg)225 lb (102.06 kg)250 lb (113.40 kg)
bicycling, <10 mph (16.09 kph), leisure285.76333.39381.02428.64476.27
bicycling, 10-11.9 mph (16.09-19.15 kph), light485.80566.76647.73728.70809.66
bicycling, 12-13.9 mph (19.31-22.37 kph), moderate571.53666.78762.03857.29952.54
bicycling, 14-15.9 mph (22.53-25.59 kph), vigorous714.41833.48952.541,071.611,190.68
bicycling, 16-19 mph (25.75-30.58 kph), racing general857.291,000.171,143.051,285.931,428.81
bicycling, > 20 mph (32.19 kph), racing, not drafting1,128.761,316.891,505.021,693.151,881.27
bicycling, 12 mph (19.31 kph), seated607.25708.45809.66910.871,012.08
bicycling, 12 mph (19.31 kph), standing642.97750.13857.29964.451,071.61
bicycling, mountain, BMX607.25708.45809.66910.871,012.08
Running, 5 mph (8.05 kph) (12 min/mile)592.96691.78790.61889.44988.26
Running, 5.2 mph (8.37 kph) (11.5 min/mile)642.97750.13857.29964.451,071.61
Running, 6 mph (9.66 kph) (10 min/mile)700.12816.81933.491,050.181,166.87
Running, 6.7 mph (10.78 kph) (9 min/mile)750.13875.151,000.171,125.191,250.21
Running, 7 mph (11.27 kph) (8.5 min/mile)785.85916.821,047.801,178.771,309.75
Running, 7.5 mph (12.07 kph) (8 min/mile)843.00983.501,124.001,264.501,405.00
Running, 8 mph (12.87 kph) (7.5 min/mile)843.00983.501,124.001,264.501,405.00
Running, 8.6 mph (13.84 kph) (7 min/mile)878.721,025.171,171.631,318.081,464.54
Running, 9 mph (14.48 kph) (6.5 min/mile)914.441,066.851,219.261,371.661,524.07
Running, 10 mph (16.09 kph) (6 min/mile)1,035.891,208.541,381.191,553.841,726.48
Running, 11 mph (17.70 kph) (5.5 min/mile)1,143.051,333.561,524.071,714.581,905.09
Running, 12 mph (19.31 kph) (5 min/mile)1,357.371,583.601,809.832,036.062,262.29
Running, 13 mph (20.92 kph) (4.6 min/mile)1,414.531,650.281,886.042,121.792,357.54
Running, 14 mph (22.53 kph) (4.3 min/mile)1,643.141,916.992,190.852,464.712,738.56
Running, cross country642.97750.13857.29964.451,071.61
Running, on a track, team practice714.41833.48952.541,071.611,190.68
Running, marathon950.161,108.521,266.881,425.241,583.60

For example, a 150-pound (68.04 kg) person can burn around 592.96 calories per 60 minutes when running at 5 mph( 8.05 kph) speed and 571.53 calories per hour when cycling at 12-13.9 mph (19.31-22.37 kph).

If you want to calculate exactly how many calories you can burn from cycling based on your age, gender, heart rate and cycling intensity, do check our cycling calories calculator for more details.

What burns more calories running or biking?

Running burns more calories than biking in general because it involves more intense whole-body exertion and higher impact, leading to greater energy expenditure. For example, a 175lb (79.38 kg) person burns approximately 333.39 calories in 30 minutes of moderate cycling, whereas the same person burns around 345.89 calories in 30 minutes of running at 5 mph (8.05/kph). The higher caloric burn in running is due to the increased demand on the cardiovascular system and the involvement of more muscle groups at a higher intensity.

Cycling vs running for weight loss

Running for weight loss is more effective than cycling because it generally burns more calories in the same amount of time, contributing to a larger calorie deficit. Since a deficit of 3500 calories is required to lose one pound, running can help achieve this goal quicker than cycling due to its higher caloric expenditure per session.

For example, a 175lb (79.38 kg) person with the same diet and calorie daily intake, can lose around 0.69 pounds per week by cycling at moderate intensity, 30 minutes per day in one week, but lose around 0.67 pounds per week by running at 5 mph (8.05 kph) speed, 30 minutes daily per week.

Cycling vs running for fat loss

Running for fat loss is generally more effective than cycling because it typically burns more calories in the same duration, leading to a larger caloric deficit which is crucial for fat loss.

Running vs cycling belly fat

Running for reducing belly fat is generally more effective than cycling because it tends to burn more calories, contributing to overall fat loss, which includes the abdominal area.

Cycling to running calculator

A Cycling to Running calculator is a tool used to compare the distance between cycling and running based on the burned calories amount. For example, if a person runs 1 mile, the calculator might estimate that they need to cycle approximately 2-3 miles to achieve a similar caloric burn, considering the average efficiency and energy expenditure of both activities. Below is our cycling and running distance comparison calculator, you can choose cycling to running ratio based on your session intensity, leisure effort is 3:1, and vigorous effort is 2:1.

Cycling and Running Distance Calculator

Cycling and Running Distance Calculator

Below is the cycling vs running distance equivalent comparison table, including half marathon and marathon running distances.

Running Distance (miles)

Cycling Distance (miles)

















13.1-Half Marathon




Cycling to running calculator

Cycling vs running efficiency

Cycling vs running efficiency in terms of fitness, calorie burn, and weight loss depends on various factors. Running is generally considered more efficient for calorie burn and weight loss due to its high-impact nature, requiring more energy expenditure for the same duration compared to cycling. This makes running a more time-efficient choice for those looking to maximize calorie burn and improve cardiovascular fitness. However, cycling, being low-impact, allows for longer exercise sessions with less stress on the joints, which can be more sustainable for endurance training and overall fitness. The choice between cycling and running for efficiency should align with individual fitness goals, physical condition, and personal preferences.

How many miles on a bike is equivalent to running?

The number of miles on a bike that is equivalent to running varies based on the intensity of the activities, but a general estimate is that cycling 2-3 miles would be roughly equivalent to running 1 mile for the same individual. This estimation is based on the average calories burned; for example, if running burns approximately 2-3 times more calories per mile than cycling, then running miles are roughly equivalent to 2-3 times cycling miles for the same individual.

Cycling muscles vs running muscles

Cycling and running muscles are both engaged in a cardiovascular workout, yet they target different muscle groups uniquely. Both biking and running work the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles, but in cycling, these muscles experience less impact, with a focus on repetitive, circular pedaling motions that heavily involve the quadriceps and calves. Running, on the other hand, places more stress on the legs and feet due to its high-impact nature, engaging the hip flexors and additional stabilizing muscles in the feet and ankles, as well as the arm muscles (biceps and triceps) for balance and momentum. While there is some overlap, the specific demands of each activity result in differing muscle engagement and development.

Muscles used in cycling:

  • Quadriceps and Hamstrings: These muscles in the front and back of the thighs are the primary drivers during pedaling.
  • Glutes: The gluteal muscles are engaged when pushing down on the pedals, especially during uphill cycling or sprinting.
  • Calves: The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles work to stabilize the lower leg and help in the pedaling motion.
  • Core Muscles: The abdominals and lower back muscles help maintain balance and posture during cycling.

Muscles used in running:

  • Quadriceps and Hamstrings: Similar to cycling, these muscles are crucial in running for the extension and flexion of the leg.
  • Glutes: They play a significant role in stabilizing the hips and propelling the body forward.
  • Calves: These muscles absorb impact and aid in pushing off the ground with each stride.
  • Core Muscles: Essential for maintaining posture and balance, they help in stabilizing the entire body during running.
  • Hip Flexors: They are more engaged in running than in cycling, aiding in lifting the leg for each stride.
  • Arm Muscles (Biceps and Triceps): While not as intensely worked as leg muscles, they are involved in running for balance and momentum.

Cycling vs running muscles

In a study led by PhD Kirsten Bijker from the Institute for Fundamental and Clinical Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, it was found that the different muscle activities in running and cycling, notably the roles of concentric and eccentric contractions, explain the higher delta efficiency in running (42%) compared to cycling (25%). This difference is attributed to the greater metabolic energy required for concentric contractions in cycling versus the mix of eccentric and concentric actions in running.

Cycling legs vs running legs

Cycling legs vs running legs reflect the different demands of each sport on muscle development and tone. Both running and biking develop strong quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, but cycling tends to result in more muscular and defined quadriceps due to the continuous pedaling motion. Running leads to a more balanced development of the leg muscles, including the calves and hip flexors, due to the varied, high-impact movements and the need for stabilization and balance. Additionally, runners often have leaner legs compared to cyclists due to the higher overall calorie burn and the weight-bearing nature of running, which can lead to more fat loss and less bulk in muscle size.

Cycling vs running tight hamstrings

Cycling vs running tight hamstrings can both stem from the repetitive use of leg muscles, but the causes and manifestations differ slightly between the two activities. 

  • In cycling, tight hamstrings can result from a prolonged seated position and continuous pedaling motion, especially if the bike fit is not optimal or there’s inadequate stretching, which can lead to muscle imbalances where the hamstrings become tight and overstressed. 
  • In running, tight hamstrings often come from the high-impact nature of the activity, coupled with insufficient stretching and strength training. The impact of running requires the hamstrings to work hard in stabilizing the legs, which can lead to tightness if they are overworked or not properly conditioned.
Cycling vs running for muscle-building

Cycling vs running for muscle-building shows distinct differences due to the nature of each exercise. Cycling, particularly intense or uphill riding, is effective for building muscle, especially in the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. The resistance element of cycling helps in muscle hypertrophy and strengthening. 

Running, while it engages the lower body muscles, is more of a cardiovascular exercise and tends to develop endurance rather than bulk. The repetitive, high-impact nature of running can build lean muscle and improve muscle tone, but it is less likely to add muscle mass compared to cycling. Both activities, however, contribute to overall fitness and endurance, with specific benefits in muscle conditioning suited to the demands of each sport.

Cycling vs running bones impact

Cycling vs running bones impact differs significantly due to the nature of each exercise. Running is a high-impact activity that involves repeated stress on the bones, particularly in the legs and feet, which can strengthen bone density over time and increase the risk of stress fractures if not managed properly. This impact stimulates osteoblastic activity, promoting bone growth and density.

Cycling is a low-impact exercise, exerting less stress on the bones since the body weight is supported by the bicycle. While this makes it a safer option for individuals with joint or bone issues, it does not provide the same level of bone-strengthening benefits as running. Therefore, cyclists may need to incorporate additional weight-bearing exercises into their routine to maintain optimal bone health.

In a medical study led by Professor R. Scott Rector from The Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Missouri, USA, it was found that non-weight-bearing (NWB) sports like cycling have significantly lower effects on bone mineral density (BMD) compared to weight-bearing (WB) sports like running, with cyclists having a higher likelihood of osteopenia, underscoring the importance of bone-loading activities in maintaining bone mass.

Is cycling better than running for bone health?

No, cycling is not better than running for bone health because running, as a weight-bearing exercise, more effectively stimulates bone growth and increases bone density compared to cycling, which is a non-weight-bearing activity and has less impact on bone strengthening.

Cycling vs running cardio

Cycling vs running cardio effectiveness can vary depending on the intensity and duration of the exercise, but generally, running is considered a tougher cardiovascular workout. This is due to the high-impact, weight-bearing nature of running, which typically leads to a higher heart rate and greater oxygen consumption (VO2MAX) compared to cycling at a similar effort level. Running engages more muscle groups, including the core and upper body, contributing to a higher overall energy expenditure. While both biking and running activities can be adapted for High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to boost cardiovascular fitness, the inherent intensity of running often makes it more challenging in terms of cardio effort.

A study led by R. T. Withers from the Human Performance Laboratory, Ball State University, USA, showed that while cyclists and runners exhibit similar VO2 max percentages, their performance varies significantly based on their training specialization, indicating that the adaptive responses to exercise are influenced by the specific movement patterns executed in training, with cyclists performing better on bicycle ergometers and runners on treadmills.

Running cadence vs cycling cadence

Running cadence vs cycling cadence represent two different aspects of exercise intensity and rhythm in their respective sports. Both cadences are critical for performance optimization in their respective sports, but they operate under different biomechanical dynamics and serve distinct purposes in training and competition.

  • Running cadence, typically measured in steps per minute, refers to the number of steps a runner takes and is often used as an indicator of running efficiency and speed. A higher cadence in running is usually associated with better form, reduced impact stress, and improved speed, with an optimal range often cited around 170-180 steps per minute. 
  • Cycling cadence, measured in revolutions per minute (RPM) of the pedals, reflects the speed at which a cyclist is pedaling. An efficient cycling cadence is generally around 80-100 RPM, allowing for effective power output and endurance while minimizing fatigue. 
What are comparable speeds of running vs cycling?

The comparable speeds of running vs cycling are determined by comparing the Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) values for each activity, matching cycling and running speeds that have similar energy expenditure rates as measured by these MET values.

The comparable speeds of running vs cycling, based on similar MET values, are as follows:

  • Moderate cycling at 12-13.9 mph is comparable to running at 5 mph (12 min/mile).
  • Vigorous cycling at 14-15.9 mph is comparable to running on a track team practice.
  • Racing general cycling at 16-19 mph is comparable to running at 8.6 mph (7 min/mile).
  • Racing, not drafting cycling at speeds greater than 20 mph is comparable to running at 11 mph (5.5 min/mile).
  • Seated cycling at 12 mph, standing cycling at 12 mph, and mountain biking are all comparable to running cross country.

What are comparable speeds running vs cycling

These comparisons are based on the MET values for each activity, showing the intensity levels that align between cycling and running at different speeds.

Does biking help with running?

Yes, biking helps with running because it builds endurance and leg strength without the high-impact stress on the joints, thus complementing running training and aiding in overall aerobic fitness.

PhD Naroa Etxebarria from the National Institute of Sports Studies (NISS) at the University of Canberra, Australia, in a 2012 study found that both short and long high-intensity interval training (HIT) in cycling improved cycling performance in triathletes, but longer 5-minute intervals were more effective in enhancing subsequent 5 km running performance.

Does biking help with running endurance?

Yes, biking helps with running endurance by building cardiovascular fitness and leg strength while offering a low-impact alternative to improve overall stamina.

Does running help with cycling?

Yes, running helps with cycling by enhancing cardiovascular health, bone density, respiratory system efficiency, muscle strength, and mental health.

  • Cardiovascular Health: Running, being a high-intensity cardiovascular activity, strengthens the heart and improves circulation, which can enhance endurance and performance in cycling.
  • Bone Density: The weight-bearing nature of running helps in maintaining and improving bone density, which is beneficial as cycling is a non-weight-bearing activity and less effective in this regard.
  • Respiratory System: Running increases lung capacity and strengthens the respiratory muscles, aiding in better oxygen uptake and utilization, which is advantageous for cycling endurance.
  • Muscle Strength: Running helps build and tone the leg muscles differently than cycling, providing a more balanced lower body strength that can be beneficial for cycling.
  • Mental Health: The mental resilience and focus gained from the discipline of regular running can contribute positively to the mental challenges of long cycling sessions or races.

Does running help with cycling

Does running help with cycling endurance?

Yes, running helps with cycling endurance because it improves cardiovascular fitness and builds leg muscle strength, both of which are essential for sustained cycling performance.

Can I run and cycle on the same day?

Yes, you can do running and cycling on the same day as part of a cross-training regimen, which is common in multi-sport events like Ironman, to build overall endurance and balance different muscle groups.

Jogging vs biking, which is better?

Whether jogging or biking is better depends on individual fitness goals and physical condition; jogging is more effective for calorie burn and weight-bearing bone health as a slow version of running, while biking is lower impact and better for joint health and endurance training.

Spinning vs running, which is better?

Whether spinning or running is better depends on personal goals and physical needs; spinning offers a low-impact, cardio-intensive workout ideal for joint health and endurance, while running provides higher calorie burn and bone-strengthening benefits.

Elliptical vs running, which is better?

Running is better than elliptical for overall cardiovascular health and weight loss because it is a high-impact, full-body exercise that typically burns more calories, but the elliptical is a lower-impact alternative that is gentler on the joints.

Cycling heart rate vs running

Cycling heart rate vs running heart rate typically shows that heart rates are generally higher in running due to its high-impact, weight-bearing nature, which demands more from the cardiovascular system. 

Both activities can reach similar heart rate zones, particularly when cycling is performed at high intensities, but running often reaches these zones more quickly and maintains them with less perceived effort due to full-body engagement. In cycling, especially at moderate intensities, the heart rate might be lower compared to running at a similar perceived effort level, as cycling is a non-weight-bearing activity and more muscles are engaged in running.

Is running or cycling better for your heart?

Both running and cycling are excellent for heart health. Running can lead to quicker cardiovascular benefits due to higher intensity while cycling offers a safer, low-impact alternative for sustained heart health.

Cycling vs running heart rate zones

The heart rate zones for cycling and running are similar, categorized as light, moderate, hard, very hard, and maximum, based on the percentage of the maximum heart rate. The specific zone a person falls into during either cycling or running depends on the intensity of the exercise and their fitness level.


Zone 1 (Light)

Zone 2 (Moderate)

Zone 3 (Hard)

Zone 4 

(Very Hard)

Zone 5 (Maximum)


50-60% HRmax



















Cycling vs running heart rate zones

Cycling vs running blood lactate

Cycling vs running blood lactate levels can differ due to the physiological demands of each activity. In cycling, where the body weight is supported and the exercise is non-weight-bearing, lactate tends to accumulate at higher intensities or during uphill and sprinting efforts, as the leg muscles are primarily engaged. 

Running, being a weight-bearing and high-impact activity, often leads to earlier and more pronounced lactate accumulation due to the involvement of more muscle groups and greater overall physical exertion. However, the point at which lactate accumulates, known as the lactate threshold, is highly individual and can be influenced by factors like training, fitness level, and efficiency in each sport. 

Both activities can effectively improve lactate threshold levels through targeted training, but the rate and extent of lactate buildup can vary significantly between cycling and running.

In a medical study by Professor Beat Knechtle from the Institute of Sports Medicine, Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, Switzerland, it was found that both men and women have a higher fat oxidation rate at 75% VO2peak in cycling and running, with women showing a significantly higher percentage of fat oxidation compared to men, and cycling producing more lactate than running in both genders.

Cycling vs running power

Cycling vs running power differ in how they are generated and measured. In cycling, power is quantified in watts and is a direct measure of the cyclist’s effort, as it reflects the force applied to the pedals and the speed of pedaling, which makes it easier to measure and track using power meters. Cycling power is mainly generated by the lower body, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. 

In running, power is less about direct force output and more about the efficiency of stride, cadence, and the body’s ability to absorb and utilize energy with each step. Running doesn’t typically involve direct power measurement in watts, but running power meters have started to emerge, measuring the effort using metrics like vertical oscillation and ground contact time. The concept of power in running is more abstract, as it relates to the runner’s ability to generate forward momentum efficiently. 

Cycling ftp vs running ftp

Cycling FTP (Functional Threshold Power) and running FTP, though conceptually similar as measures of an athlete’s sustainable power output over an hour, differ in their application and measurement.

In cycling, FTP is a well-established metric measured in watts, quantifying the highest power a cyclist can maintain for one hour in a steady state without fatiguing. It’s a key indicator of cycling performance and is commonly used to set training zones. Running, however, doesn’t have a direct equivalent of FTP measured in watts, as running power is a newer concept and less universally adopted. Running power meters are emerging, measuring power in terms of the runner’s effort and efficiency, but the data and its usage are not as standardized as in cycling. The term ‘FTP’ in running is often used more loosely to refer to a similar concept: the highest pace a runner can sustain for an hour, which is more commonly referred to as lactate threshold or tempo pace.

Cycling vs running cost

Cycling vs running cost varies significantly, with cycling generally being more expensive due to equipment, apparel, and maintenance costs while running requires less investment in gear but may have higher long-term costs in footwear and potential injury treatments.

Equipment Cost:

  • Cycling: Requires a significant initial investment in a bike, which can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the quality and type. Additional costs include maintenance, repairs, and potential upgrades.
  • Running: Primarily requires a good pair of running shoes, which can range from $50 to over $150, with the recommendation to replace them every 300-500 miles for injury prevention.

Apparel Cost:

  • Cycling: Specialized cycling apparel like jerseys, shorts, gloves, and helmets can add up, especially for higher-end, performance-oriented gear.
  • Running: Apparel is generally less expensive, with basic requirements including shorts, shirts, and socks; however, specialty items like compression wear and advanced weather gear can increase costs.

Time Cost:

  • Cycling: Maintenance, cleaning, and potential travel to cycling locations can add to the time investment, alongside longer duration rides.
  • Running: Typically requires less time for preparation and can be done almost anywhere, making it more time-efficient for regular exercise.

Running vs cycling for busy people

For busy people, running often presents a more convenient and time-efficient option compared to cycling. Running requires minimal preparation and equipment; you can simply step outside and start, or use a gym treadmill if the weather is unfavorable. It’s easier to fit into a tight schedule due to the ability to start right from your doorstep, without the need for extensive gear or travel to suitable locations. 

While cycling has its benefits, such as the possibility to cycle to work, it generally requires more preparation time and equipment (bike, helmet, maintenance), and indoor cycling usually necessitates access to a stationary bike either at home or in a gym. 

Therefore, for those with limited time, running offers a more accessible and flexible way to maintain fitness compared to cycling.

Cycling vs running equipment and apparel

Cycling vs running equipment and apparel differ significantly due to the nature of each sport. Cycling requires more specialized and costly equipment, including a bicycle, helmet, cycling shoes (for clipless pedals), gloves, and specific cycling apparel like jerseys and padded shorts for comfort and efficiency. Maintenance gear for the bike can be added to the list. 

In contrast, running is far less equipment-intensive; the most important investment is a good pair of running shoes, designed to support and protect the feet during high-impact activity. Running apparel is generally simpler and less expensive, comprising shorts, shirts, and optional items like running jackets or leggings for different weather conditions. While both activities might require additional accessories like hydration systems, reflective gear, or specialized watches for tracking performance, the overall investment in equipment and apparel is considerably higher for cycling.

Indoor cycling vs running

Indoor cycling offers a low-impact, equipment-dependent workout ideal for joint health and customizable resistance, while indoor running, typically on a treadmill, provides a high-impact, cardiovascular-intensive exercise that simulates outdoor running conditions.

Exercise bike vs running machine

An exercise bike provides a low-impact, joint-friendly cardiovascular workout focusing on the lower body, while a running machine offers a high-impact, full-body cardiovascular workout that can be more effective for weight loss and building bone density.

Indoor cycling vs running vs walking vs rowing

Indoor cycling and rowing are more efficient indoor workouts than running and walking, as they provide low-impact, full-body workouts with higher intensity options, effectively burning more calories and engaging more muscle groups, making them ideal for comprehensive fitness within a confined space.

Cycling jersey vs running shirt

A cycling jersey is typically form-fitting with rear pockets and often made of moisture-wicking, aerodynamic fabric, whereas a running shirt is generally looser, lighter, and designed for breathability and comfort over longer distances.

Cycling shoes vs running shoes

Cycling shoes are designed to attach to the pedals for efficient power transfer and feature stiff soles while running shoes offer cushioning and support to absorb the impact of foot strikes on various terrains.

Cycling socks vs running socks

Cycling socks are generally thinner and designed for optimal foot-to-shoe contact and moisture management while running socks often provide more cushioning and support, especially in areas prone to impact and blisters.

Cycling tights vs running tights

Cycling tights vs running tights differ mainly in design and functionality to suit the specific needs of each activity. Both biking and running are typically made from moisture-wicking, stretchy fabrics for comfort and performance, but cycling tights often include padded inserts (chamois) to provide cushioning for the rider’s sit bones, enhancing comfort during long rides. Running tights, however, lack this padding as it’s unnecessary for the activity. Additionally, cycling tights may have features like wind-resistant panels and a more aerodynamic fit to reduce drag, while running tights prioritize flexibility and range of motion, sometimes including reflective elements for visibility. The choice between the two depends on the specific requirements and comfort needed for either cycling or running.