Exercise has long been known to contribute to healthier living. Among the most common are running and cycling. Both are great types of exercise for improving cardiovascular fitness, specifically lung function, oxygen consumption, and cardiac output.
However, when it comes to losing weight, there is often debate about which exercise is more effective: running or cycling on a spin bike.
For this article, let’s dive into spin bike vs running for weight loss to find out which exercise is best for cutting weight, including comparing the other benefits of both activities.
Cardio Exercises For Weight Loss
Regularly doing cardio exercises can have a positive impact on weight loss. It boosts energy expenditure or the overall number of calories burned per day.
The number of calories burned during cardio relies on parameters such as intensity and time, among others. High-intensity cardio, for example, burns more calories than low-intensity. Running for an hour will burn more calories than running for 10 minutes.
Other factors also influence how many calories are burned during a specific exercise. A person who is heavier or has more muscle mass will burn more calories per session. This is due to the fact that their bodies have to work harder to produce the same muscle motions, consuming more energy1.
Spinning is a low-impact, high-intensity workout on a stationary bike with a weighted flywheel that consists of timed intervals when the cadence and/or resistance are raised. Spinning, also known as indoor cycling, is a terrific kind of aerobic exercise that involves endurance, intervals, strength, high intensity, and recovery.
Spinning sessions can range from flat, endurance workouts that strengthen the legs and build stamina to high-intensity, interval, and hill workouts that focus on burning calories, improving leg power and strength, and increasing cardiovascular fitness2.
Benefits Of Indoor Cycling
- Improves Cardiovascular Health
Spinning is one of the best kinds of exercise for increasing aerobic endurance and improving overall heart health. Repeated sessions of difficult, high-intensity workouts improve cardiovascular stamina and strengthen the heart2.
- Benefits Lung Health
Taking spinning classes on a regular basis will also improve your lung capacity and overall lung health2. Improved lung capacity can lead to a decrease in shortness of breath, making it easier to engage in other physical activities.
- Improves Fat Burning
Spinning is a high-intensity activity that is also an effective fat-burning exercise and solution for reducing or maintaining weight. Fat burning occurs when your heart rate is between 65-75% of your maximal heart rate, and an hour-long spin class can burn between 400 and 600 calories, depending on your height, weight, and level of exercise2.
- Improves Lower Body Strength
Spinning helps to increase strength in the legs, lower back, and core muscles. This high-intensity workout targets the glutes, quads, calf muscles, lower back, and core, and greatly develops power and strength in the legs and lower back2.
- Stress Relief
Spinning is a fantastic stress reliever since it releases endorphins. Spin classes are also a terrific chance to meet individuals who share your interests, and enjoy camaraderie, upbeat music, and a team-oriented mentality2.
Running is one of the simplest and least expensive kinds of exercise to begin. You can run alone, with a companion, or as part of a running group.
You can begin by running around the block or on a nearby track, and as your fitness improves, you can modify your routes and increase your distance. A smartwatch with a running app can help you get started, and they frequently contain a wealth of advice and information, such as routines for getting in shape, increasing distance, and preparing for events.
Running is slightly less expensive than spinning; nonetheless, when it comes to running shoes, the selection might be overwhelming. Running may be very taxing on the joints, so it’s critical to invest in a suitable pair of running shoes that will reduce the strain on your joints2.
Benefits Of Running
- It Comes Naturally
Humans are built to run. You don’t need any extra equipment (other than running shoes) or expertise to be able to move your body through a run. As a result, it appeals to many people1.
- Ideal For Beginners
In relation to the previous point, running is good for beginners3. Novice exercisers may desire to become in shape but are concerned about learning a new sport without prior expertise. Running can be an excellent way to begin.
- Simple To Adjust
You do not have to start with a marathon if you are new to running. Consider starting with only one mile instead. You may easily change the distance or duration of your run as your endurance and fitness levels increase without the assistance of a fitness professional1.
- Reduces Belly Fat
Running may be particularly enticing if you want to lose weight. High-intensity running, such as HIIT sprints, has been demonstrated in studies to successfully burn abdominal fat, also known as visceral fat4,5,. The extra benefit of HIIT running is that it is time-efficient, with a workout lasting only five to fifteen minutes.
- Helps To Increase Muscle Tone and Bone Density
Running mostly increases muscle7 in the lower body, specifically the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. It does not result in hypertrophic muscle development (an increase in muscle size), but it does improve muscular tone. It also has a favorable effect7 on bone mineral density, which typically declines as you age.
Spin Bike vs Running For Weight Loss
Both forms of exercise provide the same benefits. Let’s compare the similarities and differences between two cardiovascular exercises to see which one is a more effective workout.
Which Provides A Better Workout?
A “better workout” may be defined as a workout that is more difficult, intense, and likely to boost cardiovascular fitness for most people, or “better”—sort of a broad sense of a “better” workout—may refer to a better workout for a specific individual, based on his or her fitness goals and needs. The answer to which sort of exercise is best, running versus cycling, will undoubtedly differ depending on your specific fitness goals, current fitness level, and overall health8.
1. Muscles Worked
The fundamental component in cycling is power, which is estimated by measuring the cross-sectional area of a muscle and monitored using power meters. Spinning exercises the leg muscles such as the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and calves, as well as the lower back and core muscles. Climbing hills use the upper body to some extent.
Running is a leg-focused workout in which efficiency trumps power. Distance runners develop long, lean muscles by running long distances with gentle, repetitive movements, but sprinters have larger leg muscles that provide more power to run quickly over shorter distances. Runners build lean muscles in their arms, shoulders, chest, and core, in addition to their legs2.
2. Calories Burned
A 45-minute spinning workout can burn between 400 and 700 calories, depending on numerous parameters such as your height and weight, as well as the cadence and level of resistance employed in the session. Spinning has a wide range of calorie-burning options that are solely dependent on how hard you work.
Running can also be a high-calorie-burning workout, depending on the distance and intensity. A 30-minute task can burn between 200 and 500 calories, while an interval or hard-tempo workout can burn twice as many. Running at a moderate speed for an hour can burn between 500 and 1,000 calories2.
Spinning lessons provide a multitude of benefits, ranging from increased endurance and stamina to increased speed. Interval, HIIT, endurance, and Tabata courses are available, and most classes last 45 to 90 minutes, with a five- to ten-minute warm-up.
Running necessitates a longer warm-up period for the muscles to loosen and stretch, which is normally between one and two miles or roughly 15 minutes. Runners can run as far as they want once their muscles have warmed up, depending on their fitness level and training goals2.
4. Fitness Levels
Spinning may be enjoyed by everybody, whether you are a novice or a fitness specialist. The low-impact exercise is based on intervals and resistance that you control, so you can start at a level that you are comfortable with and progress as your fitness improves.
Anyone can begin to run, but if you are unfit, the first few weeks may be difficult. Until you’re fitter, the first two to four weeks should consist of a combination of walking and gentle running. Stick with it – many people give up running in the first few weeks because it is difficult, but as your fitness improves, you will begin to feel amazing2.
5. Weight Loss
To lose weight, you must discover the proper ratio of calories in (not too many or too little) to calories out (burned through activity and normal physical activities). Running could help you lose weight faster. However, if you cycle for an extended period of time, your calorie loss will eventually match and exceed that of running.
Running and cycling have the ability to help you lose weight depending on how you participate in the sport and how you combine it with good eating and other habits. While running burns more calories on average, cycling is gentler on the joints and may allow you to exercise for longer periods of time, allowing you to burn more calories overall9.
6. Cardiovascular Benefits
Spinning is one of the best kinds of exercise for increasing aerobic endurance and general heart health. Repeated sessions of tough, high-intensity workouts improve cardiovascular stamina and heart strength. Spinning reduces the risk of acquiring heart disease by nearly 50%.
Running provides the same cardiovascular benefits as spinning, and a 5-kilometer run will provide you with the same health benefits as a 45-minute spinning session. Running is an excellent weight-loss workout that helps to improve strength and lean muscle mass in the legs, core, and upper body muscles3.
After looking into the complexities of both activities, it is safe to say that both running and spinning are excellent cardiovascular exercises. Neither cycling nor running comes out as a significantly superior option.
Choose the one that best fits your lifestyle to ensure you’ll enjoy it and continue with it. You can also alternate between the two to gain the benefits of each and avoid boredom. Combining the two exercises in a cross-training routine would be the best bet for improving overall aerobic fitness.
In addition, if you want to attain specific outcomes, such as weight loss or muscle toning, work with a personal trainer who can tailor an exercise plan to your unique needs.
5 Maillard, F., Pereira, B., & Boisseau, N. (2018). Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Total, Abdominal and Visceral Fat Mass: A Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine, 48(2), 269–288. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0807-y