Injured by years of running? You can get the same benefits from cycling.


According to a US Track & Field report, running remains one of the most popular pastimes for Americans. Their figures show that in 2002, for example, an estimated 10.5 million Americans walked at least 100 days. Compare this to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s stats on cycling (just 30 percent of the population) and it’s clear that most Americans enjoy running.

Or do they?

While some people speak of the “runners high” they can’t live without, others refer to the simplicity of running as an indication of their willingness to explore an alternative (that is, if such an alternative were incorporated into an effective and efficient method of strengthening the cardiovascular system, trimming legs and buttocks, burning and falling).

For runners in the latter camp, cycling can be a nice alternative. In fact, according to experts, cycling may provide more benefits than running for certain individuals. People who have already had hip, knee, or ankle injuries or who have osteoporosis might prefer the less-taxing benefits of cycling over running.

Cycling vs. Running: Which Is Best?

Whether cycling or running is the better choice for you is a matter of personal opinion. However, science has shown that the benefits of running can just as easily be realised by cycling. Below is a list of just some of the confirmed health benefits of both running and cycling. improved

cardiovascular performance. Studies have shown that certain exercises are better than others at strengthening cardiovascular performance. Research shows that the most effective exercises for this purpose fall into the category of aerobic or cardiovascular exercise. These exercises increase the heart rate and breathing pattern, thus strengthening the heart. In the war between cycling and running, there are no winners for cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that both are effective aerobic exercises. (According to one study conducted by the United States Department of Transportation, cycling increased aerobic fitness by 11% for those who cycled short distances four times a week for six weeks.)

calorie burn and weight loss. As aerobic exercise, both cycling and running are effective tools for burning calories and losing weight. However, the calories burned while running are not equal to the calories burned while cycling the same distance. Because running is a weight-bearing exercise, the number of calories burned at a given time depends on the runner’s weight and the number of miles he or she runs. When cycling, however, the calorie consumption is calculated by adding the wind resistance factor. So, the faster a cyclist travels, the more calories he or she burns.

As a result of these factors, the amount of calories burned by cycling and running differs significantly.While a standard equation is that running 1 mile is equivalent to cycling 4 miles, says Dr. Gabe Mirkin of the University of Texas, this equation is “bad science.” Basing his own figures in part on cyclists’ oxygen consumption, Mirkin determined that “[20 miles of cycling at 24 miles per hour is equivalent to running 5.6 miles at any speed.”

The scientific evidence is clear that there are no clear health victors in the cycling versus running wars. This should be good news for those who prefer the low impact of cycling but who previously feared sacrificing health benefits.

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