Cycling Vs Running

A common question I get asked is “what is better cycling or running?”. The simplest answer I can give is “whichever you prefer”.

However here is the more detailed answer….

Cycling and running are both great forms of cardiovascular exercise which help to strengthen your lungs, heart and circulatory system. They both help with fat loss and are both great for endorphin release. If I had to give the edge to one of them it is……… cycling, and here is why.

This is based on someone who does little or no exercise, athletes on the other hand develop their bodies to suit there sport.

Joint loading

When we run, we propel our bodies forward with our legs and land on one foot, the other leg then travels forward, and the pattern is repeated. When we do this the weight of the body is taken up by the ankles, knees, hips, lower back and to a lesser extent the other joints in our body. If we are a heavy-set person over time this can take its toll on the body. Cycling on the other hand doesn’t have this same loading on the body, it is much kinder on the joints. Cycling does come with a caveat though, if we are not sat on the bike properly you can wear out the joints by repeat compression of the joints. Nine times out of ten this is because people have the saddle set too low!

Concentric vs eccentric forces

A concentric force is where a muscle shortens and produces power. Think of a squat, the concentric action is where you stand up, the quad muscles shorten and produce power.

An eccentric force is where a muscle is activated while being lengthened, in a squat it is where you lower yourself down.

So why is this important?

An eccentric force causes more microdamage to the muscle and leads to more soreness.

Why is this important for running vs cycling?

When we run and our foot lands and causes a deceleration which is an eccentric force, this pattern is repeated the whole time you run. Cycling has much fewer eccentric forces, and, you guessed it, meaning less soreness and we can go for longer!

Do what you love

The most important thing is to do what you love, there is no point saying “Right, I am going to start a cycling plan” if you will not stick to it. Running is better than no cycling!


It is important to remember with both you need to stretch to prevent tight muscles. You also need to include resistance training for muscle strength and bone density.

Not sure where to get started with your exercises and if it is right for your body? At BodyWorx we can give you a whole-body MOT to make sure its safe to start. We can even get you going with exercise with some simple to follow plans.

Would you like to know more? Call now and speak to one of our experienced and friendly team!


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Bodyworx Health Clinic Limited - 2019