Cycling versus running: Which exercise is better, and why?

Both running and cycling are good exercises, but is one better than the other? It’s time to reveal all the details.
cycling workouts
Cycling up and down the hill can be an effective workout. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Geetika Sachdev Published: 23 Sep 2021, 19:12 pm IST
  • 117

Those who are fitness freaks love to go outdoors at every given opportunity. No wonder, it’s hard for them to take a pick between cycling or running. Of course, there are some who prefer one activity over the other, but then is it necessary to make a choice? Well, only if you want to know what’s better between the two. 

Both are aerobic exercises, but running burns more calories than cycling. But it is also much harder on your muscles, and if that’s a pain point, you might want to go cycling. 

So without further ado, let’s compare the benefits of cycling and running, and arrive at a decision. Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it? Let’s go! 

1. Cardiovascular health

Since both are aerobic activities, they are good for your heart. That’s because they help strengthen your heart, which in turn helps to circulate more blood throughout the body. Plus, when you perform these exercises regularly, you are helping your heart learn how to pump blood more efficiently. Make sure you do not do these exercises for more than 60 minutes a day. The problem is that going overboard can harm your cardiovascular health. 

2. Calorie burn

When it comes to burning calories, running is way more intense than cycling, because it utilises more muscles. Cycling is more gentle and can be done much longer than running. If you do both cycling or running at an elevation, you will burn more calories for sure. Everything from your age, weight, gender and other factors are responsible when it comes to calorie burning. 

3. Muscle building

When you compare both exercises, cycling can help to build muscles in your lower half, and running can tone your body, helping you build strength. Your leg muscles are mainly worked out when you cycle, while the muscles of your upper body aren’t as engaged. 

In the case of running, all your muscles are utilised at the same time, and yet, you will not build much bulk. 

cycling vs running for weight loss
Choose to cycle or runing and kick off potential diseases.
4. Muscle toning

Running is definitely better when it comes to muscle toning. That’s because your entire body is worked out, and you end up with a higher calorie burn. You could also add some weight training. With cycling, your lower body gets toned, but not the entire body. 

So, how about running slower but longer to get a toned body? 

5. Weight loss

A calorie deficit is what’s important when it comes to weight loss. You can lose weight quickly if you engage in running. With cycling, you need to do it for long hours to really see the effect. Of course, exercise is not all, if you want to lose weight. It’s about following a healthy diet and sleeping on time. 


Keep an idea of your risk of weight-related issues.

Check BMI

Talk with your doctor and a physical trainer if you have a specific weight-loss goal.

The bottom line
You could choose an exercise, based on your needs and preferences. It’s quite natural that you will stick to what works best for you. 

  • 117
About the Author

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town. ...Read More

Next Story