Is cycling better than running?

This question is about Running and Cycling

Sarah Achleithner

No, cycling isn’t always better than running. Running is associated with more physiological benefits than cycling. Studies to date indicate that running tends to be a more intense activity than cycling and therefore produces a greater metabolic response [


]. Furthermore, even though cycling and running are aerobic exercises that reduce risk of diseases such as cancer, and hypertension, running is weight-bearing which helps strengthen bones and increases energy expenditure [







That said, running isn’t right for everyone and there are plenty of other ways to stay active. For instance, those with osteoarthritis may not be well-suited for running, however, can still benefit from lower-impact activities like cycling and swimming, since it puts less strain on joints. Exercise should be tailored to each individual’s needs, goals, and skill set.

Runner and a cyclist high fiving on a road, surrounded by tall grass

[1] Celis-Morales, C.A, Lyall, D.M., Welsh, P., et. al. (2017). Association between active commuting and incident cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality: prospective cohort study. BMJ 2017;357:j1456. 

[2] Pedisic Z, Shrestha N, Kovalchik S, et alIs running associated with a lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality, and is the more the better? A systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2020;54:898-905. 

[3] Redkva, P. E., Miyagi, W. E., Milioni, F., & Zagatto, A. M. (2018). Anaerobic capacity estimated by the sum of both oxygen equivalents from the glycolytic and phosphagen pathways is dependent on exercise mode: Running versus cycling. PloS one, 13(9), e0203796. 

Williams P. T. (2012). Non-exchangeability of running vs. other exercise in their association with adiposity, and its implications for public health recommendations. PloS one, 7(7), e36360.