Is cycling better than walking to stay fit?

Two ways to stay active and fit, but according to science, cycling is better than walking. Let’s find out why

Cycling and walking are highly accessible and, above all, economical forms of exercise: they can be done on a low budget, or even without any budget, anywhere and anytime.

However, one can question which type of training is best . Which of the two activities can lead to more significant weight loss? And which one is better to perform in the long run? The answer is given by science.


  • Cycling and walking: what science says
  • Walking and cycling: benefits
  • What is the best activity between walking and cycling

Cycling and walking: what science says

First, it is worth saying that both walking and cycling provide health benefits and, most importantly, they are equivalent to the 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stay healthy. fit and healthy.

The Public Health England shows that regular physical activity is good for health, reduces mortality, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and stroke, as well as reducing the risk of developing cancer and type two diabetes. It can also improve sleep quality and overall quality of life.

research has shown that the stationary cycling significantly increases the VO2 Max, which is the maximal oxygen consumption during exercise; while walking studies showed a moderate increase in VO2 Max.

Walking and cycling: benefits

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When it comes to walking, the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that taking at least 100 steps per minute has many benefits for physical fitness.

Riding a bicycle or stationary bike can increase your heart rate in different ways depending on the type of training you are doing (for example, interval training will increase your heart rate for short, intense periods of time); in addition, pedaling for 30 minutes allows you to burn about 70-85% of fat.

If, on the other hand, the goal is to strengthen the muscles of the legs and make them more toned, walking and cycling are both ideal. Walking on different terrains, such as hills or dirt paths, is particularly effective as muscle tissue burns four times more calories than fat, so the muscles you build by walking can also help you lose more weight by reducing fat and building lean mass.

Bicycling, on the other hand, can help strengthen the legs and lower body, as pedaling allows the calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps to work; But that’s not all, because at the same time the muscles of the core , back and buttocks are also put under strain .

Walking can help reduce overall fat, and doing it for just 30 minutes can result in you burning around 200 calories, depending on your speed and body weight. In comparison, an exercise bike workout can burn up to 300 calories in half an hour ; obviously also in this case the calories consumed vary according to the body weight and the intensity of the training.

A 2010 study found that indoor cycling , combined with a low calorie diet, is effective in reducing body weight and fat. It has also proved effective in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels .

Both walking and cycling increase the amount of blood the leg muscles need to move. The heart pumps more blood to the cells, so the more activity you do the more the heart has to pump, and it does so by increasing the heart rate.

British Journal of Sports Medicine study of outdoor walking found that doing it regularly has a wide range of health benefits, significantly reducing blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat, mass index. body, cholesterol and depression. Another University of Glasgow research found that cycling to work regularly can reduce the likelihood of premature death by 41%.

Therefore, we can conclude by saying that both walking and cycling represent a valid and, at the same time, highly effective form of training to keep us fit and healthy.

What is the best activity between walking and cycling

Cycling therefore offers the same benefits as walking, with the added benefit of exerting less pressure on the joints . If you suffer from joint and muscle problems in the lower limbs, or are coming back from an injury, cycling will have a less negative effect than walking and weight training, which over time could worsen the problem or even lead to further injury. .

So while both are great ways to stay active and on the move, cycling outperforms walking as it burns more calories, promotes greater weight loss, and reduces the risk of death from natural causes in the long term. However, as with any form of exercise, the benefits of walking and cycling will depend on individual factors such as consistency, volume and intensity of training, as well as the type of nutrition.

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