For an efficient, low-impact workout, you can't go wrong with walking or using an exercise bike. Both activities help you maintain a healthy weight and improve your cardiovascular health. With an exercise bike at home or walking, you can train at any time. Each allows you to slow down the pace or ramp up the intensity as needed. When deciding which activity to do, choose the one that keeps you challenged and motivated.
Feeling the Burn
The difference between using an exercise bike and walking lies in the calorie burn. When you exercise with moderate effort on a stationary bike, a 155-pound person will burn about 596 calories an hour, according to Harvard Health Publication. If you engage in the same amount of exercise time while walking, you will burn only 298 calories. If your lifestyle is hectic, the difference is significant. When you bike, you are getting the maximum amount of calorie burn for your time.
Building a Stronger Body
Another key difference involves the impact each exercise has on your body. When you walk, you are engaging in a weight-bearing activity. Load-bearing activities build stronger bones, which can help lower your risk of developing osteoporosis, a disease that causes your bones to become thinner and less dense. When you use an exercise bike, you are not placing weight on your legs. You certainly are using your muscles, but you are not physically supporting your weight. While this may not help you prevent osteoporosis, it can protect your knees when you use a recumbent exercise bike.
Walking Toward Better Health
One disadvantage of walking is climate. If you live in an area with variable weather, it may be difficult for you to get out and walk as often as you should. Walking in theory does not cost you anything, but you may want to invest in good quality outdoor gear to increase your comfort level. You will also have to purchase new walking shoes on occasion. The advantage of walking is spending time outdoors. You can walk trails with scenic views or tour downtown. You have many opportunities to add variety to your workout.
Biking Without Boredom
While climate is a disadvantage for walking, it's not a factor for the exercise bike. No matter what the weather is outside, you can still exercise. The cost is your initial investment in equipment. After that, it is virtually free. The disadvantage, however, is the monotony. Without variety, you may find biking boring, especially if it is in the same place every day. To combat boredom, position your exercise bike in front of the TV so you can catch up on your favorite shows or listen to books on tape while biking.
Exercising with Care
Before beginning a cardiovascular exercise program, check with your health care provider. If you're new to exercise, start out easy and slowly increase the intensity with time. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, five days a week. If you kick it up a notch with vigorous cycling or power walking, 20 to 60 minutes, three days a week is recommended.
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- University of Arizona: Exercise
- National Library of Medicine: Osteoporosis
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
- Calorie Control Council: Lighten Up and Get Moving