All forms of exercise reap health benefits for the body. The best exercise is the kind that you enjoy and therefore will do more often. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends getting 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderately-intense cardio exercise.
That means biking or walking at least 30 minutes a day or splitting your workout into smaller chunks of time like 10 minutes, three times a day. Please consult your doctor before beginning any diet or fitness program.
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Both biking and walking have tremendous benefits. Choose the one that you enjoy the most and that is the best exercise — for you.
Walking and Biking
There are several differences between biking vs. walking. They use different muscles, and some people may be more comfortable doing one exercise over the other. If you're overweight, biking may suit you at first until you lose enough weight to walk comfortably and longer distances.
Whichever form of exercise you choose, practice safety. Wear a helmet when biking, and don't listen to your music too loudly when walking or biking outdoors. You should be able to hear oncoming traffic or other hazards.
Read more: Is Walking Cardio Exercise?
Weight Bearing vs. Non-Weight Bearing
Walking is a weight-bearing exercise; biking is not. This means that when biking, the bicycle is the machine moving and doing some of the work for you. When you walk, your body is the only thing working. Generally, weight-bearing exercises burn more calories per session than non-weight bearing activities, though this can be altered by increasing the intensity of your non-weight-bearing exercise.
For example, according to Harvard Health Publishing, a 155-pound person who walks at 3.5 mph will burn 149 calories in 30 minutes; while a person of the same weight, biking at 12 to 14 mph will burn 298 calories in the same amount of time.
Additionally, non-weight-bearing exercise has less impact on the joints. If your goal is calorie burn and weight loss, walking is a great option according to Mayo Clinic. Throw in some HIIT workouts and your calorie-burning potential has increased. However, if you are looking for a lower impact form of exercise due to knee, hip or other joint problems, biking may be the better form of exercise for you.
Read more: Which Muscles Are Used When Riding a Bike?
Increase the Intensity
The intensity of your walk or bike ride may also determine which is the better exercise for you. You have more intensity options when biking than you do when walking. Leisurely biking on flat terrain will burn fewer calories than walking on similar terrain.
However, biking in the mountains or uphill will allow you to burn more calories and cover more ground than if you were walking. However, the calorie burn could be the same whether you were walking or hiking uphill.
Indoors or Out
Another deciding factor for which is a better form of exercise is whether you are biking or walking indoors or outdoors. If you are at the gym using the treadmill, you have the option to increase the speed or the incline.
When stationary biking, you will burn significantly fewer calories, unless you attend a group fitness class, such as group cycling. In that class, you can burn up to 1,000 calories or more. If you choose one of those classes, then biking would be the better form of exercise.
- Health.gov: “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition”
- Mayo Clinic: "Walking: Trim Your Waistline, Improve Your Health"
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights”
- European Journal of Preventative Cardiology: "Intensity versus duration of cycling, impact on all-cause and coronary heart disease mortality: the Copenhagen City Heart Study"