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Cycling vs. Walking: Which Is the Better Workout for You?

Published : April 15, 2024 8 mins read Updated On : Apr 16, 2024

You decide to start incorporating quick morning workouts in your routine so you can begin your day feeling motivated and refreshed, but what should it be? A walk around the vicinity to reel in the dewy morning or cycle up to the hill for the gorgeous view of the sunrise?

A dilemma that a lot of people go through as they try to weigh the pros and cons of both to choose the best option. We would like to make that decision easier for you, hence, we have compiled the ultimate guide listing all the benefits of Cycling vs. Walking you'll need in one place to take that step forward.

● Why exercise regularly?
● Cycling versus walking
● Conclusion

Let’s first look into why we need to pick either of the workouts in our daily lives by understanding—

Why exercise regularly?

Contrary to the popular belief that exercise is for people who want to build muscle mass, everybody needs to maintain good physical health to have better mental health, reduce diseases such as obesity, and weak muscles, and reduce strength and cardiovascular diseases.

Some benefits of exercising regularly are:

Weight management
● Reducing health risks such as heart diseases, stroke, type two diabetes, metabolic syndrome, infectious diseases, and certain cancers
● Increases bone and muscle strength
● Improves quality of life

Exercise does not specifically refer to activities that require machines or a gym, they can be something as simple as cycling or walking. Some of the more moderate aerobic exercises include biking, brisk walking, and swimming.

We need to at least moderately work out for 30 minutes every day. So, let’s find out which workout is the best choice between—

Cycling Vs. Walking

• Calorie burner


For every 10,000 steps (8km) an average person would burn about 300-400 calories. That is an average of 30-40 calories per 100 steps (may vary depending on the individual)

If your goal is to burn more calories each day while working out, then a minimum of 10,000 steps are required to meet your goal every day.

To accurately measure the calories that can be burned you can use a method that is recommended by experts called metabolic equivalent (METs). (1)

A study conducted on the effects of fat oxidation in women during treadmill walking versus cycling ergometer showed that there was greater fat utilisation in response to treadmill walking than in cycle ergometry an RPE ranging from 11-15. (2)


Cycling requires you to use your muscles, so they start using up the oxygen you breathe in to start converting fats, sugars and proteins into adenosine triphosphate (source of energy) referred to as ATP or the basic molecule that is responsible for the supply of energy to cells.

So, when you are cycling your body uses anaerobic metabolism to convert carbohydrates into ATP which makes you burn calories faster.

According to a study conducted it showed how much calories are burned while cycling for 30 minutes based on the individual weighing (3) :

● 56 kgs roughly burn up to 315 kcal
● 70 kgs roughly burn up to 278 kcal
● 83 kgs roughly burn up to 441 kcal

Conclusion- Cycling burns more calories than walking despite the similar workout time and intensity.

• Muscle Mass Increase


While walking does build some muscle it’s not bulky or big mass as you’d imagine.

You cannot compare it to the gym muscle mass build however it creates a leaner muscle tone, especially in the lower muscle groups such as hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and glutes.

It also helps build muscles in your back and core abdominals. All of this also depends on a person's gender, age and body mass.


Again, even with a high-intensity exertion like cycling you won't exactly get ‘ripped’ as you would with gyming it would however help you develop some muscle mass.

Cycling primarily helps build leg muscles such as calves, hamstrings, quads, adductors and glutes. Cycling consistently tones your muscles and gives them strength.

Conclusion - with cycling, you tend to exert more force despite both activities working the same muscles. Cycling does tend to work your muscles harder.

• Belly fat


If you’re wondering if walking reduces belly fat? It does! An average person weighing around 70 kg can burn up to 149 calories just by walking at a moderate pace of 3.5 miles km/h for about 30 minutes.

This pace of walking which can range from 13 to 20 minutes per mile or from 3.0 mph 2 4.5 mph is known as brisk walking. You need to breathe in a way that even if you are noticeably breathing harder, you should be able to form full sentences.

A study was conducted to investigate the effect of 12-week, walking exercise on abdominal fat and it was found that walking can provide a safe and effective lifestyle strategy against abdominal obesity, also referred to as belly fat (4)


Belly fat has been linked to several health conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood, sugar, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Cycling does help reduce belly fat. However, the key to achieving this is by performing a variety of workouts that help you build your fat-burning metabolism.

It is recommended to ride your bicycle while fasting two or three nights each week a normal ride on an empty stomach but do not ride for more than two hours without any food intake. Riding while fasting helps your body burn more fat you can begin before having your breakfast so that your body can take as much fat as it can to fuel the ride.

A study was conducted on people who used their cycles to commute a little over 10 minutes. Each way showed us a significant drop in their weight and it also improved their BMI over two years. (5)

Conclusion- between the two walking burns considerably more amount of belly fat than cycling.

• Improving strength


While walking does increase lean muscle mass and functional strength to have an impact on muscle strength, you would need to walk at a high intensity. Increasing your speed or adding resistance exercises will boost your walking workout and improve the strength of your muscles.


Cycling requires you to use your lower muscles in a high-intensity workout that can improve the strength of your leg without causing stress to your joints. It specifically targets the glutes and the calves.

Conclusion- between the both cycling does strengthen muscles better than walking.

• Health and fitness


When you are working you are essentially carrying your body weight. This is known as weight-bearing exercise. Some of the benefits include:

● Improves cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness
● Reduces the risk of stroke or heart diseases
● Improves chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, muscular pain or stiffness, high cholesterol and diabetes
● Improves bone strength and balance
● Increases muscle strength and improves endurance
● Helps lose weight and belly fat


while cycling requires about two hours for general improvement it is beneficial for health and fitness because it is—
● causes less strain and reduces the chances of injuries compared to any other form of exercise
● A good quick workout as it uses all the major muscle groups as you pedal
● Cycling is easier and only requires the skill of balancing which one learnt is hard to forget
● It’s good for building, stamina and strength strength
● It can be as intense as you want or could just be a lazy, low-intense workout
● Cycling also improves your mental health. When you get out there, experience special places and encounter certain people.
● It is also an efficient mode of transport and helps you get in the exercise needed for the day while running an errand or going to work

Conclusion- Both are equally tied when it comes to health and fitness, as both have equal merits and benefits.

• Adaptability and lifestyle-friendly


Comparatively walking, unlike other forms of exercise, is completely free as it requires no equipment or training. It doesn’t have to be vigorous to be effective and can be done at a pace you find comfortable.

It is flexible which means you can walk any time of the day with no restrictions or any risks associated with it.

It is a great beginner exercise for the overweight and elderly who haven’t worked out in a long time.

It is also fun as you can socialise, or enjoy various parks specifically designed for walking.


Cycling requires a basic understanding of how to balance and ride a bike. So it is limited to the people who have learnt it or have access to the vehicle.

Although it is extremely beneficial for strengthening muscles and managing weight.

People with good experience of riding can take rough terrains to practise endurance and reap better physical benefits.

Cycling can be good for knee joint pain as it strengthens the muscles around it which can help manage the pain.

Conclusion: cycling is better to burn more calories and increase lower body strength. However, walking also helps with bone density and is zero cost compared to cycling.

Final decision

Cycling and walking are both excellent workouts that are low impact compared to other forms of exercise.

However, both have specific limitations and benefits that can be taken into consideration when you are looking for an option that requires special attention.

The better choice between both of them depends on your situation. Walking is flexible and can be done anywhere at any time. Cycling is extremely convenient as it doubles as a mode of transport so you can use it to commute to work while completing a workout.

The choice should be made on what’s convenient for you and your body.


1. Is cycling good for knee joint pain?

Cycling can be a great exercise alternative for knee joint pain. It's a low-impact activity that doesn’t put any stress on the joints compared to running. It also helps strengthen the muscles around the knee joint and promotes joint mobility.

2. Does walking reduce belly fat?

Walking can be beneficial for weight loss and burning belly fat. It increases your energy expenditure, increases metabolism and creates a healthy lifestyle.

3. Does brisk walking reduce belly fat?

Brisk walking can reduce belly fat by increasing your heart rate and burning more calories compared to a stroll.

4. How many calories are burned in cycling?

While the exact calories that can be burned by cycling depends on factors such as duration, intensity and body weight, an average cycling can burn anywhere between 400 to 600 calories per hour (varies from person to person)

Nutritionist Mudita Bhatia
Diploma in Diet & Nutrition ( JIMS )

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