Posted by: Lana | 2011/09/16

Running vs cycling

Hi Fitness Doc

Can you perhaps offer some insight on running vs cycling? To my knowledge (or as I''ve read) one burns more kJs when running than when cycling. I''m just wondering - how does an hour of running (distance covered 12km on average) compare to an hour of hard spinning at a level where maintaining a cadence of 90-100 RPM is hard work (more due to speed than difficulty to pedal)? I''m currently cycling like this and it feels so much more difficult keeping that pace than running @ 12km/h for an hour felt (I''ve changed my routine a bit) and I''m panting and sweating far more. Are these indications of excertion proof that I''m at least equating the kJ burn level of running or not?

I''ll really appreciate your advice.

Kind regards

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi Lana

Well, on paper, running burns more, you're right. It obviously depends on the person and how hard/fast they are running vs cycling, but you're looking at 15kcal/min for running and maybe 12kcal/min for cycling.

So that hour of running, going 12km, would be equal to more or less 900kcal (there's obviously a bit of a guess here), while the cycling is 750 to 800 kcal.

The thing is, exercise is not solely about calories burned. I think what you're discovering if that you have a very specific strength for running, but perhaps not for cycling. That may be due to muscle specific factors. Cyclcing is a more "static" and local muscle exercise than running, totally different contraction and I think that may be it.

So I think in your case, you could address that cycling by getting fitter for the bike, which will happen, and then you can do 60min on the bike and feel the same. But I think the key is to do what you enjoy, and don't get too hung up on that numbers game, because that's one of many components to exercise!


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