Is Riding A Bike Better Than Walking?

Walking and cycling are two prevalent ways for people to exercise. These aerobic activities will surely get the heart pumping, whether in the gym or outdoors. However, you may want to consider if riding a bike is better than walking, especially when you don’t have a lot of time and want to burn a certain number of calories.  

Riding a bike is better than walking as it burns more calories, builds more muscle, and is more time efficient. Riding a bike is also preferable for people with lower limb joint injuries. Walking is less prone to accidents and back injuries and does not involve any equipment or gear.

There are advantages to walking and cycling, and the better option depends mainly on an individual’s overall health, diet, exercise intensity, and workouts. Other factors like terrain and variations in walking and cycling workouts can also help determine which is better.

Is Riding A Bike Better Than Walking?

Riding a bike is considered better than walking when your main goal is to burn more calories. However, there are some instances when walking may be a better option. There are various factors to consider like weight loss, strength building, injuries, time, and cost.

For some people, riding a bike is better as it is more fast-paced, there are lots of different routes available, and there is the factor of involving equipment and gear. However, others may enjoy the simplicity and accessibility of walking as an exercise option.

Advantages Of Riding A Bike Over Walking

Riding a bike is better than walking when you want to burn more calories in the same amount of time. This is true, especially when you are short on time and only have about 20 to 30 minutes to exercise. The calories burnt while walking or cycling depends on the intensity of the exercise.

For instance, in the same time (approximately 30 minutes), you will burn considerably more calories while biking. During light exercise, a person will burn 240 calories cycling compared to 154 walking. These numbers refer to someone of about 68 kg and will fluctuate depending on the person’s sex, age and weight.

However, if you increase the intensity of the workout to high, cycling will burn about 357 calories compared to 250 calories for walking. Therefore, cycling will be more efficient in the same time to burn more calories if that is what you’re aiming for.

Cycling may be better for losing weight if you’re isolating the fact that more calories are burnt. However, many other components play a role in weight loss, such as diet, stress management, and other activities.

Cycling, as well as walking, is considered a low-impact exercise. Therefore, they are both great options when you have an existing injury. For instance, riding a bike is a good option for people with knee osteoarthritis. Riding a bike is better for those concerned about stress on the ankle and knee joints.

Riding A Bike Is More Time Efficient

Not only will you burn more calories cycling than walking in the same time, but you can also cycle for much longer than walking. For instance, it is much easier and less stressful on certain body parts to cycle for 4 hours than walk for 4 hours, especially at a lower intensity.

If you want to cover some longer routes, cycling is a better and more time-efficient option. Whether on the road or in nature, it is pretty motivating to cycle and cover so much ground. Walking would be more tiring, and you wouldn’t be able to go nearly as far as cycling. One thing that inspires many cyclists is the chance to see more and cover more distances each time.

Muscles Involved In Bike Riding And Walking

Another benefit of cycling over walking is building strength. Preliminary research has shown that cycling has been associated with increased muscle hypertrophy, which refers to the increase and growth of muscles. Riding a bike has been linked to increased strength, especially at a higher intensity.

Although these are two inherently different activities, many of the same muscles are used. For instance, the hamstrings and glutes are used in cycling and walking. During cycling, the gluteal muscles are even more activated as the exercise gets more intense.

The same muscles are used during walking uphill, as there is increased intensity and the glutes are required to engage more. However, the knee extensors (quadriceps) are better exercised during cycling. They build more strength as they are one of the main driving forces needed to push and pull the pedal during cycling.

The calf muscles are also used during cycling and walking, but cycling may require them to exert more force. During walking, the calf muscles are involved in the pushing-off-the-ground phase, and in cycling, they are used to push down the pedals.

Is Riding A Bike Better Long Term?

Any long-term exercise regime depends heavily on each individual’s passions, schedule, goals, and interests. For low-impact sports, both walking and cycling are great long-term options. Walking has several benefits, such as reducing blood pressure, body fat, and cholesterol and increasing mental well-being.

These are all health benefits from regular walking, on a long-term basis. This could mean walking as much as every day or at least a few times a week. On the other hand, regular cycling has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and has the same health benefits as walking.

If you are someone who suffers from any injuries or pain to lower body joints and muscles, cycling may be a better long-term solution. It will put less stress on these spots, while walking is more weight-bearing and may cause the pressure to increase on these areas.

Combining all of these aspects, overall, riding a bike appears to be more effective and has more benefits than walking long-term. It burns more calories, involves specific muscles at a higher intensity, is excellent for weight loss, and has many health advantages. But again, it depends on you as an individual which activity will be better and more sustainable.

When Is Walking Better Than Riding A Bike?

Walking may be a better option when you have specific injuries that cycling can make worse. For example, many cyclists have low back pain because of the flexed trunk position for long periods. Walking would be a good way to keep exercising but put less pressure on your lower back.

Here you may want to think about age and mobility. Someone older may prefer walking to cycling, especially when exercising alone. However, for many older people riding a bike is perfectly fine, depending on each individual. Walking is less prone to injuries and accidents than riding a bike. 

Although cycling burns more calories and may be better for general weight loss, walking is also an excellent way to get some activity. If you are happy with burning 250 calories during a high-intensity walking session, then walking would be a better option for you.

Cost is another factor to consider. Cycling is generally more expensive as it involves equipment as well as maintenance of the bike. Walking only involves some good shoes and comfortable clothing. If you would like a more cost-effective way of exercise, especially initially, walking may be better.

Many experts suggest a combination of walking and cycling for optimal weight loss, muscle-building, and endurance. Cycling is not weight-bearing, so that you can go longer and faster, and it is often easier on the joints. Walking is great when you have more time and want to recover from any potential injuries caused by other activities.

Variations In Riding A Bike And Walking

Walking does not only have to involve walking around your neighborhood, and cycling does not only have to be stationary cycling. Both activities include several variations, which also influence whether one is better than the other.

For instance, walking over more rugged terrain can require more force from the calf muscles than walking on equal ground. Walking upstairs or uphill is more intense, burns more calories, and strengthens muscles.

The type of terrain and even the type of bike also influence how effective the workout is. Rough terrain may require you to go slower but will involve the use of various muscle groups. Also, the number of calories burnt can differ when riding a bike on a flat terrain compared to more strenuous and challenging environments.

Cycling can be stationary on an exercise bike or outdoors. Both will have the same essential benefits, but for some people riding a bike outdoors may be more motivating. However, if this is not available to you and you can only cycle at the gym, it is still an excellent choice to get some exercise.

The effect of riding a bike can vary depending on the distance covered – some rides can be endurance rides. Cycling can also involve sprints, interval training, and hill training. All these variations will differ in calories burnt, some being more intense than others.


Overall, riding a bike is more effective than walking if you have the same amount of time to do the activities. Cycling generally burns more calories but is more prone to lower back injuries. Walking is more weight-bearing but is more cost-effective and more accessible to all people.


Similar Posts