Cycling vs Running: Which is Best for You?

Cardiovascular exercise is one of five basic components of fitness. The Centers For Disease Control states that healthy adults can gain extra health benefits from doing 150 to 300 minutes of moderate and vigorous cardiovascular exercise a week. If weight loss is one of your fitness goals, your activity choice can make a difference towards  your caloric deficit for the week. Seasoned exercisers may ditch Zumba and the elliptical for more challenging workouts, like running and/or spinning classes.  When you are ready to get that heart rate pumping, which cardiovascular session will come out ahead: a 5K run or a 45-minute spin class?

Running vs cycling

Running a 5K is less time consuming than a marathon but the perks are similar – you can still get a new cool t-shirt and maybe even a medal! But apart from the swag, the amount of calories burned during a 5K depends on how much you weigh and how fast you are able to run. Here is a simple formula based on a 150-pound person running a 12-minute mile:

0.73 x weight = calories burned per mile x 3.1 = calories burned in 5K

Example: 0.73 x 150 =110 calories per mile, so that comes out to: 110 calories x 3.1 miles = 341 calories

A person running at this pace will finish a 5K in about 37 minutes.  You can increase your caloric burn and finish sooner by gradually increasing your speed or by taking cross-training classes to strengthen the rest of your body. Working up to a 10-minute mile will increase your calories to about 363 calories and shave five minutes off your workout time. 

Indoor cycling is still a staple in many gyms across the country and the go-to workout for many celebs. Participants simulate different terrains on  a specialized bike in a dark studio and a hot music playlist. According to myfitnesspal’s activity calculator a 150-pound person will burn about 357 calories during a 45-minute class, but that can depend on your resistance levels, how many standing intervals you do during class and your cadence. If you are supposed to be sprinting but you decide to take it slow, your workout will vary from your neighbor. Same thing goes for hills. If you add so much resistance that your cadence drops below 14 rpms, your heart rate will decrease as well, and cause you to burn fewer calories.

Which one is better?

As long as you don’t have any existing injuries, running a 5K gives you more bang for your butt! Make sure that you warm up and cool down afterwards and that your running shoes have enough stability to help you sprint over the finish line. If you need motivation to sign-up for a race, train for the big day by running outside or with some of these treadmill classes.

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