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What’s Better for Cardio Conditioning? Peloton vs Running

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 25, 2022

If you’re looking to get a good cardio workout, running or cycling are some of the best options. They’re both excellent choices for heart health and improving your VO2 max. Neither is better than the other, so it’s truly a personal preference depending on your fitness goals. 

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic and 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. Whether you choose to lace up your running shoes or clip into your Peloton bike, you can break a good sweat for your health. 

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic and 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. Whether you choose to lace up your running shoes or clip into your Peloton bike, you can break a good sweat for your health. 

The Differences Between Cycling and Running

While both activities are great for cardiovascular health, there are some key differences that may help you decide which is better for you. 

Calories Burned and Weight Loss

On average, running burns more calories than cycling, therefore it is typically recommended more often as an activity for weight loss. A 140-pound individual burns about 130 calories every 10 minutes of running, versus around 60 calories for the same amount of time cycling. Of course, this varies based on the intensity of your run or ride, but generally speaking, running requires more from the body. 

When running, you’re using your full body instead of just your lower half. Additionally, there’s far more impact on the bones and joints, while cycling is a non-impact activity. As a result, running uses more energy to carry the weight of your body when you move.

Building Muscle

Running and cycling build muscle in very different ways. Both activities can help you get stronger and tone your body, but the results will look different. Runners tend to build lean muscle, so their arms, core, and legs appear toned and sinewy. Runners should supplement running with strength training if they want to build muscle.

Cycling vs running, on the other hand, builds muscle in the quads and calves. You may notice larger leg muscles after consistently cycling. However, this will be muscle and not fat. 

Risk of Injury

Unfortunately, running has a much higher risk of injury because the impact is tough on the joints and bones. Running injuries are typically caused by overuse, or not allowing your body enough recovery time between workouts. Injuries such as plantar fasciitis, patella tendonitis, stress fractures, and hamstring pulls are common runner injuries. 

Cycling has a much lower rate of injury because it is a resistance activity and you are taking a lot of weight off your joints by sitting. However, cyclists can still get nagging injuries such as hip bursitis and achilles tendonitis. On a more serious note, if you’re riding outdoors, you need to be extremely safe and wear a helmet to avoid potential injuries such as concussions or broken bones. 

Financial Cost 

Running tends to be a more affordable activity, since all you really need is a good pair of running shoes and moisture-wicking apparel. There are plenty of running gadgets and gear that cost more, such as a GPS watch, protective sunglasses, and hydration packs. You may also have to factor in supplemental costs, such as trips to the chiropractor or sports massage.

Cycling is more of an investment, since most quality road bikes will cost you several grand. Cycling gear such as apparel, shoes, and helmets, as well as general bike upkeep, also add up. However, once you have a bike that fits you and some quality outfits, you can keep your gear for years.

Peloton Vs Running: Which is Better?

As mentioned earlier, cycling on your Peloton or running outside will give you equal cardiovascular benefits. Neither one is better, so it’s really about your lifestyle, time commitment, and fitness goals. 

However, Peloton doesn’t only sell their signature spin bike–they also sell a top-of-the-line treadmill that comes with classes and workouts. The Peloton Tread is great for indoor runs and speed workouts to help you run faster, longer, and more efficiently. Some of the best Peloton running instructors include Becs Gentry, British elite marathoner, and Jess Sims.

If you’re not looking to buy a treadmill, Peloton also offers outdoor running classes in their app. They have a wide library of 200 running classes available that vary from 20 to 60 minutes. Some of the best Peloton outdoor running classes include Marathon Race Prep, Interval Runs, and Tempo Runs. Each workout provides different levels of intensity and focuses on a particular goal. The classes work by providing guided audio and music during your runs, which you can listen to via headphones or speakerphone. 

FAQs

Is it ok to run every day?

It’s ok to run every day, provided that your body is recovering properly. However, most running coaches will recommend taking a day off each week, or trying a few days of cross-training. This helps reduce the overall stress on your joints and limbs, so you can reduce your risk of injury. If you run every day, make sure to balance your hard workouts with easy recovery runs.

Can you lose belly fat by cycling?

Yes, you can lose belly fat by cycling, but it will take time. Running is a more effective way to lose fat quickly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a total cycling body transformation. Cycling will help build muscle tone in your legs, especially your quads, glutes, and calves. Over time, you can lose weight and build VO2 max for a stronger, healthier heart.


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