In most cases, when there is a choice between running and biking, weight loss comes first and keeping fit and healthy comes second.
However, it is not clear why the question of choice arises at all, because the most correct approach would be to combine these two cyclic sports, both for health and for weight loss. Ideally, you should also add swimming to them. Simply put, a triathlon can solve all problems with excess weight and wellness.
But let us consider the question of the effectiveness of running and cycling separately, as the main topic of the article requires.
There shouldn’t be any problems with running. Put on sneakers and run. But problems do arise. First of all, because running is no longer a natural way to get around for food or other purposes. Not to mention long-distance running.
The vast majority of novice runners, regardless of their goals, go into their first training session without learning the basics of running biomechanics and safe technique, and in unsuitable footwear.
If you add extra weight (which you want to lose) and the complete absence of applied exercises, including warm-up and general physical training, then various pains and even injuries are quite predictable results.
There are two variants of events. In the first case, a person begins to study the necessary material, gradually adjusts his or her technique and adapts the body to running loads. Or running automatically becomes an unsuitable sport and is no longer considered.
When choosing running to lose weight, you have to consider that the fat will not burn off in a week, exposing powerful muscles. Not at all.
First, before fat starts to burn effectively, you have to learn how to run. Run long and injury-free, and stay within your safe heart rate zone.
Secondly, you will not grow any powerful muscles, because long-distance running develops endurance fibers. And they do not provide for a strong increase in volume. Although your legs will certainly get a more graceful shape and relief.
The advantages of running
The most obvious advantage is that you don’t depend on anything. In some running techniques (barefoot) you don’t even depend on a pair of sneakers. You can run absolutely anywhere and in any weather, wherever you find yourself. And you can even train on your way home from work, saving on gas or fares.
Running can help you lose weight
Running is a calorie eater. Its effectiveness for weight loss is known to any marathon runner, because for them it is the opposite problem – the ability to store energy for a long time.
Running training allows you to maintain the necessary heart rate zone for a very long time without creating increased danger to yourself and others.
No sophisticated equipment
When preparing for any event, including marathons, ultras or trail runs, there’s no need to be distracted by the maintenance and preparation of complex equipment. You don’t have to worry that something might fail or break hopelessly. There’s also no need to transport bulky equipment and gear to the start area.
The feeling of freedom
All together, with developed endurance and impeccable technique, you can sometimes feel a greater sense of freedom and unattachedness than when training on a bicycle. Even though it is incorrect to compare running and cycling by such criteria.
An absolutely fantastic sport for all purposes, but it also has its disadvantages, some of which are mentioned above.
Other disadvantages include the difficulty of maintaining, storing and transporting a bicycle for the fairer sex without the help of men with hands and heads.
Cycling requires no less work on technique than running. To work effectively in training, you will have to learn even more subtleties, because now there is also a technically complex device that is not originally a natural extension of a person.
Cycling can be just as traumatic as running (even without falling). A competent approach to training and improvement of riding and pedaling techniques can reduce all risks. However, an even smaller percentage of those who want to lose weight than when running do study the necessary material.
But there is another nuance. It applies only to those who consider the bike solely as an exercise machine for burning fat. The fact is that most of the amateur training of obese people is no different from ordinary cycling.
Neither the pace, the distance, nor the general level of exertion with which beginner amateurs ride around town can have any effect on excess weight. Although it is certainly very good for your health. The main problem is the lack of continuous trails and frequent forced stops.
But even if there is an opportunity to go out of town on good long roads, the necessary pace is not maintained for long enough. The heart rate zone is not controlled in any way, and the concepts of cadence and circular pedaling are absent in principle. Just like the contact pedals themselves.
By the way, cheap bikes don’t encourage exercise, but rather hinder it. Yes, running shoes don’t last forever, either, and are a waste in serious training. But the cost of good bicycles and the bodywork that requires periodic renewal due to wear and tear is still higher and continues to grow with the level of training.
Advantages of the bike
Various disadvantages of the bike, such as the need for maintenance and repairs, can easily turn into advantages.
Need for maintenance
Most cyclists enjoy any kind of fiddling with their favorite machine, from upgrading to cleaning. Even the author of this article, who once worked as a bike mechanic for many years, sometimes preferred interesting technical work to training and riding. Not always, of course, but nevertheless.
Bicycles help you lose weight
This is indeed true, but as written above, to lose weight you must regularly maintain a good (but safe) level of exertion for a long period of time.
Highway and cross country competition
As in running, you can easily take part in any amateur competitions around the world. This is an additional incentive to improve the quality and frequency of training, as well as to learn different useful material.
Feeling of freedom
Although the runner is less attached to anything, the cyclist can experience an even greater sense of freedom due to the much greater speeds and distances. And, unlike running, this can be experienced even if you do not yet have good technique and are riding at an elementary amateur level.
Well-prepared cycling tours, with everything you need – it’s incomparable travel, allowing you to go anywhere and do not lose touch with nature.
A huge number of calories are lost during the bicycle trip, so the question of weight loss disappears by itself. And health will be more than enough due to fresh air, physical activity and a lot of positive emotions.
The bottom line is
In an urban metropolis, running is a more suitable option, especially for girls. It will allow you to clearly control the load without being distracted by secondary factors. But running is not always able to immediately begin to bring pleasure, most often it takes some time to develop endurance and technique.
A bicycle is capable of giving you joy as soon as you get on it, bypassing the adaptation stage of the body. If you set up your bike properly and learn the basics of pedaling, you can minimize the risk of knee injuries. And shock loads, unlike running, are excluded from the very beginning. But if, in addition to enjoying the ride, there will also be a question of losing weight, then there may be certain problems associated with finding trails.