Cycling vs running, excellent question! Now are both popular forms of exercise. Millions of people, young and old, pound the pavements as a way of keeping the extra pounds at bay and cycling is also experiencing something of a renaissance with the Tour De Yorkshire proving just how popular cycling has become in recent years. But which sport is better for your health and should you be investing in a new bike or pair of running shoes instead of a britaxkidfix car seat for your toddler?
Both running and cycling are aerobic forms of exercise, which means they give your cardiovascular system a good workout as long as you are willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Aerobic exercise is of course a good thing. If we do enough aerobic exercise it helps to burn the calories and tone the body. Conversely if we don’t do enough aerobic exercise, we run the risk of ending up seriously overweight and heading for Type 2 diabetes and a heart attack.
Exercise for Weight Loss
If you need to lose some weight, cycling or running will both be an excellent way of burning up extra calories. Vigorous aerobic exercise boosts the metabolism for many hours after exercise, so if you do a spin class or go for a run before work you can reap the benefits all day long. Scientific studies have also shown that strenuous exercise, specifically running and cycling, can inhibit the appetite for a short period after the exercise session has ended, which if you are trying to drop excess pounds is not a bad thing.
The Health Benefits of Running
Running is a weight bearing exercise and in women, weight bearing exercise such as running can help to protect against osteoporosis. Regular running encourages new bone growth, which helps to protect against fractures. Cycling doesn’t offer this benefit as it isn’t weight bearing, so if you are menopausal woman you are better taking up running instead of cycling. You do need to crack a decent pace for running to be really effective, though, as a leisurely shuffle around the local park won’t build bone as well as a hard interval session.
The Health Benefits of Cycling
Cycling is a lot easier on the joints and connective tissues than running and therefore if you are significantly overweight, you are better off cycling for weight loss. Cyclists can manage much greater volumes of exercise than runners. A cyclist can go all day if he chooses whereas the average runner would fall apart if he tried to run for several hours in one go. Cycling doesn’t put the same amount of pressure on muscles and joints as running. For those prone to overuse injuries, cycling might be a safer bet.
Beware of Injuries
Whilst cycling and running are good for aerobic fitness, they are not without their downsides. Running is very tough on the body and novice runners are far more likely to end up sitting on the injury bench than novice cyclists. That said cycling can be just as perilous for the health – particularly if you come off your bike at speed or suffer an unfortunate collision with a stationery object.
A Bit of Cross Training
For optimum health results, do a bit of both. A fitness programme featuring a bit of cycling and running will be far more effective than focussing on just the one type of exercise. And for even greater benefits, include a couple of swim sessions, too. If you find that you enjoy your swim-bike-run sessions, you could always enter a triathlon!
Ultimately, whether you cycle or run will be a personal choice. Some people love running and can’t bear the thought sitting on a bike when they could be pulling on a pair of running shoes and hitting the local trails. There are also plenty of hard-core cyclists who think runners are bonkers. But whatever your preference, both types of exercise are fun and both are good for your health, as long as you are sensible.
So what do you think? Cycling vs Running, which would you chose? I would love to know.
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