Running Is Great
But Cycling May Be Better
If you’re thinking about getting fit, well done, but there are a couple of questions you need to ask before you start.
What is the evidence I am getting fit?
It’s a matter of intel. You need to know how to measure progress.
How will I reach my fitness goal?
That is, what exercise will you choose? What will produce the best results?
Any exercise is good, but they aren’t all equal.
The Best Marker For Success
To answer the first question, the primary issue is heart rate or, to put it another way, how much your heart works during exercise. The American Heart Association (AHA) says heart rate is an important indicator to getting fit.
If you’re not sure what your heart rate should be, the AHA also provides a handy formula to calculate it here.
But that only answers the first question, “What is the evidence I’m getting fit?” Monitoring your heart rate is the answer, but you still need to decide which exercise you’ll use to get your heart rate up.
The Best Method To Succeed
Some people like swimming. Some like running. Some prefer rowing, but which is best?
Of all the possible activities to choose from, cycling and running are probably the two most popular, but the numbers indicate that cycling may be winning the race for prominence.
- People For Bikes offers great information on cycling in the US.
- Commuter cyclists in New York City increased by 35% in 2007 and by another 26% between 2008 and 2009.
- One of the fastest growing groups of cyclists are those over 50.
- In January 2014, MoneyWeb referred to cycling as the new golf.
There’s a reason for the increase in numbers and it may be more than just a matter of preference.
Following are just a few reasons why cycling is becoming a two-wheeled revolution.
You’re Never Alone
The fact that a large number of Local governments are investing money on protected bike lanes is proof that the numbers are up but if you don’t accept that, look around.
Cyclists are everywhere and at any time of day. If you’re riding, you’re never alone, and that’s good because there is safety in numbers.
As a cyclist, you can always expect to see friendly company on your rides. Some cyclists ride hard, motivating you to do better. Some ride easily giving you a chance to socialize but you don’t have to be in a club to enjoy the benefits.
Although club riding is definitely a good idea.
Develops Team Building Skills
When onlookers come across a bunch of cyclists, all they see is chaos. Don’t let the image fool you. Cyclists are helping and being helped by each other throughout every ride.
Did you know that a cyclist can save 40% of his or her energy by drafting? Did you know that individual cyclists always improve performance by riding in a group? It’s a team-building thing. Can you do that running?
Cycling Synthetics Are Safer
The answer? Have you ever seen a video of someone falling off a Wattbike? It happens on treadmills all the time.
The more popular something becomes, the more people pay attention, including scientists who are known for being curious. They want to know how and why something works. They also want to answer all the questions we ask, such as, what is better, cycling or running.
And it just so happens that the Appalachian State University at North Carolina did a study of runners and cyclists and discovered that runners experience more damage from running than cyclists do from cycling. You can read about it on Cycling Weekly.
Very Little Impact
Did you know that the only exercise with less impact than cycling is swimming? That means there’s a huge difference between cycling and running. Hence, the reason cycling is less damaging.
Less damage means less recovery required. Not just less recovery time, but less damage to repair. This means cyclists can train more frequently and with more intensity than runners.
If you set a cycling program and stick with it, you’ll get fit more quickly too.
The Cost Of Cycling Is Comparable To Running
On the surface that may sound ridiculous, but if you’ll stop laughing for a moment, I’ll explain.
A bicycle is definitely more expensive than a pair of running shoes but how often do cyclists replace their bikes? If a runner puts in as much time running as cyclists do riding, they’ll buy several new pairs of shoes in a year, which may be enough to buy a bike.
It’s more expensive to get started on a bike but the initial investment will carry you a long way. My cycling shoes are 8 years old at this writing and still going.
All things considered, the costs are similar.
How many around-the-world running tours have you seen advertised lately? Any? Cyclists are touring everywhere these days.
But, even if you never cycle Europe or the world, you will still see much more of the area in which you train than runners.
It’s a fact, cyclists go more places and see more things.
Easier To Burn Calories
Live Strong says to burn 614 calories you need to maintain a running speed of 10mph or a cycling speed of 20mph for 30 minutes. Neither is easy.
But with bicycles, training rides tend to be longer even at the start. The speed may be below 20mph but the length of the ride can make the difference. And the more you train the longer the rides become.
Cyclists typically burn 1100-plus calories on a Saturday training ride. Runners as a rule don’t run for so long.
You can step outside your front door and cycle to where your fellow cyclists start. Runners aren’t likely to do that unless they live quite close to where their group starts.
Gyms Are More Accommodating
If you’re a runner, about the only running specific piece of equipment in a gym is a treadmill. That’s it. Use the treadmill or run outdoors.
Cyclists, however, are spoiled for choice. There is an assortment of indoor cycling trainers to choose from and, surprise, surprise, they even offer classes for cyclists.
Spinning classes are very popular these days and very effective. The class option is so popular Cadence and Wattbike studios are popping up everywhere.
Better Science In The Training
There is an assortment of training computers for cycling outdoors and indoor trainers have sophisticated computers also. The Wattbike computer measures 40 different training parameters and saves the details online.
Fewer Exercise Induced Injuries
According to Men’s Health the injuries per 1000 hours of training is 6 for cycling and 11 for running. Also, runners compress their vertebrae during a race and shorten them by a centimeter. It returns to normal afterward but repeatedly compressing your spine can’t be a good thing.
Better Muscle Growth
The same Men’s Health article mentions that with cycling you will see gains in leg bulk. With running, that’s not going to happen.
Entire Body Workout
Neither running nor cycling will give you large Bi’s and Tri’s, but cycling will give your arms and shoulders great tone. Compare a professional cyclist’s arms to a professional runner and you’ll see the difference.
Cycling also works your core muscles.
Cycling Enables Fat People To Get Fit
Overweight folks want to shed kilos, and that is a good idea, but it might not be the first order of business. The reality is many people lose weight and never get fit. What’s the point?
But, in spite of the fact that many cyclists are overweight, they’re fit. Or at least more fit than they were.
I don’t understand the science behind it. It’s a strange phenomenon, but getting fit is possible on a bike, even if you don’t lose all the extra padding.
Fit and weight loss aren’t synonyms, but you do have a better chance of losing weight when your fitness levels rise.
One last share. I’m skinny but I can’t tell you how many times fat folks have passed me on climbs. For some reason cycling suits the heavies.
Runners Love Cycling
Runners are not only buying bicycles in great numbers these days, they’re also lamenting not having done it sooner. If you’re a runner, don’t wait too long to try cycling. They say a runner’s legs do well on a bike.
Wide Range In Exercise Variation
From burning fat to cardio training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the method of choice. HIIT is any routine that switches between heavy bursts of exercise and rest.
You can do this with any exercise but cycling is tailor-made for HIIT.
You can pedal at low cadence – 60 to 70 – with high resistance to focus on building muscle strength or high cadence – 90 to 130 – with low resistance to focus on cardio training. It’s very effective and far less boring.
Any route you ride will automatically cycle (pun intended) through more and less difficult terrain. You don’t have to think about it, just ride.
Older Folks Love Cycling
The greatest surge in bike sales is among the folks between 55 and 85 years of age. There is a reason for this. Cycling is one of the best exercises for older folks who might be starting a bit late.
In fact, cycling is being used effectively as therapy for patients with Parkinson’s Disease. It’s effective for everyone, even the aging.
Disabled Folks Can Cycle
Have you ever heard of recumbent running shoes?
In short, bikes are just better.
Everyone, including AHA, recommend you consult a healthcare professional before starting any kind of exercise particularly if you have a history of cardio diseases. Exercise has been known to reverse the effects of these diseases but professional guidance is needed.