Biking or Walking: Which Burns More Calories?

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walking cycling calories

What Burns More Calories: Walking or Cycling?

Whether you are new to exercise, returning after an injury or simply looking for a daily workout, both walking and biking offer easy cardio options that are ideal for burning calories.

However, with busy work, school or social schedules, it is often difficult to fit in time to exercise. When you do manage to set aside 30 minutes or an hour, making the most of that time is important. With that in mind, the best option is to focus your workout on one athletic activity.

So, what burns more calories: walking or biking? Keep reading to find out which cardio option will make the best use of your time.

Defining a Low Impact Workout:

low impact workout - cycling

The allure of workouts like biking and walking is that they are low impact. However, low impact does not translate to low benefits.

Low impact refers to exercises that put little stress or strain on the body. These exercises are suitable for all ages and body types and offer the best workouts for avoiding injury. Specifically, low impact workouts avoid pounding on your lower joints.

Reversely, high impact workouts include activities like running and jumping. While these exercises are useful at strengthening bones, they require more fitness experience and capabilities.

Factors that contribute to calorie burn:


Before determining whether walking or biking is the better exercise, it is useful to consider the personal factors contributing to calorie burn.
First off, the more you weigh, the more you will burn. After all, extra weight requires extra exertion to complete a workout.

However, that doesn’t always mean your additional weight comes from fat. Muscle also adds extra weight to your body.
While women often blame gender to explain why they don’t drop weight as quickly as their male partners, it looks like the main reason why men tend to burn more calories is muscle mass.
In general, men have more muscle mass than women. However, increasing muscle mass for either gender will cause more calorie burn during cardio. You can accomplish this by lifting heavier weights and exercising more.
Calorie burn also depends on calorie intake. When trying to lose weight, you should burn more calories than you eat. Improving your diet will make the calorie burn during your workout more effective.

Calculating Calorie Burn:

Luckily, online calorie calculators compile your personal information to make calorie tracking during your workout easier.
The website Map My Ride offers a calorie calculator that tracks your weight, height, age and gender. In addition, it analyzes activities ranging from walking and biking to hiking and working out in the gym and logs how long and far your workout spanned.
After entering all your information, the system tells you approximately how many calories you burned.

What burns more calories: walking or biking?
So, now comes the question: what burns more calories: walking or biking?
In short, the answer to your question is biking burns more calories than walking. The only real exception to this rule is when you compare speed waking to slow leisurely biking.


Most people burn around 450 to 750 calories an hour while biking at 12 mph. On the other hand, walking for an hour burns around 250 to 450 calories.


Benefits of Walking:

Walking regularly reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, it helps to decrease high blood pressure and cholesterol and relieve sore joints.
Moreover, walking also strengthens bones and balance, while reducing body fat.
Walking is the easiest exercise to add to your routine because it doesn’t require any equipment. Traveling by foot for local errands helps get in your daily exercise requirement without inconveniencing your schedule.

The Benefits of Biking:

While burning calories is one great benefit of biking, the exercise also increases strength and stamina. Since the initial movements don’t require difficult skills, biking allows you to grow at your own pace.
Biking targets the muscles in your calves and thighs. Specifically, these are your soleus, gastrocnemius, hamstrings and quadriceps. Also engaging your knees, pedaling increases flexibility.
In addition to strengthening your muscles, biking is a positive influence for your heart, lungs and general fitness. Biking is an aerobic activity, which means it works to improve the cardiovascular system’s oxygen absorption and transportation. Overall, this betters your endurance.
Unlike walking, biking extends your travel range beyond local hangouts. In addition to helping your health, biking can save you money on expensive gas prices.

Ways to make walking and biking more effective:

To get the best calorie burn out of your low impact workout, bring on high energy. Whether you choose to walk or cycle, increasing the speed of your movements and the length of your workout will make the exercises more effective.
It’s also important to consider resistance in your workout. If walking starts to feel too easy but you don’t have time to increase distance, you can also make the exercise more difficult by adding weights. Carrying light hand weights or attaching ankle weights adds resistance.
The same concept can be applied to your bike. When cycling, weights can get clunky or throw you off balance. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add resistance. Mountain and speed bikes typically come equipped with gears. This will help increase resistance on easier rides.
Installing a speed tracker will also better your biking experience because it allows you to directly track the effectiveness of your workout and progress over time. Typically, speed trackers also log how many miles you ride during your workout and how far you travel on your bike altogether.
The final verdict
While walking offers a free workout option, investing in a bicycle provides better long-term health benefits.
Biking offers the best cardio option for those seeking a low impact workout. Compared to walking, biking often burns double the calories.

To stay healthy, it is advised to exercise around 30 minutes a day. In addition to burning more calories, biking offers more during a short workout because it betters your cardiovascular health and endurance.

Outdoor cycling is the ideal exercise for beginners, recovering athletes and professionals in need of a daily workout. Moreover, using cycling as a means of travel helps cut down on daily travel costs.

Altogether, the best option is to pick up a bike and just start to ride.

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