Which Is Better Exercise: Walking or Biking?

Couple stop to enjoy the view
A man and woman are biking together. (Image: Design Pics/Design Pics/Getty Images)

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. You should try to get 30 minutes of exercise a day, most days of the week. Please consult your doctor before beginning any diet or fitness program.

Walking and Biking

There are several differences between cycling and walking. They use different muscles, and some people may be more comfortable doing one exercise over the other. 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. Also, please consult your physician before beginning any diet or fitness program.

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. Additionally, non-weight-bearing exercise has less impact on the joints. If your goal is calorie burn and weight loss, walking may be the better exercise for you. 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.

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.

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