Riding a stationary bicycle burns more calories than walking alone. Although certain activities burn more calories than others, total caloric burn and overall weight loss depend largely upon individual physical dispositions, workout intensity and diet. Consult with a health care adviser or nutritionist prior to participating in a fitness or diet regimen.
One pound of fat is the equivalent of 3,500 calories. To lose 1 pound of fat each week, you need to create a deficit of 500 calories each day. The deficit may be accomplished by reducing caloric intake by 250 calories and burning an additional 250 calories through physical activity. To reach the 250-calorie burn goal, an individual weighing 125 pounds must walk (at a speed of 3.5 miles per hour) for approximately one hour or bike at a moderate pace for approximately 45 minutes.
Both body weight and level of intensity impact just how much caloric burn you will experience. "Harvard Heart Letter" notes that an individual riding the stationary bike at a moderate level for 30 minutes will burn an average of 210 calories at 125 pounds, 260 calories at 155 pounds and 311 calories at 185 pounds. Likewise, riding the stationary bike at a vigorous level for the same weight categories produces a caloric burn of 315 calories, 391 calories and 466 calories, respectively. MayoClinic.com defines "moderate" as the development of light sweat after 10 minutes of activity and the ability to carry on a conversation. "Vigorous" is defined as the development of sweat within a few minutes of activity and the inability to converse more than a few words without pausing for breath. The same trend may be seen with walking. Depending on weight, exercisers walking at a pace of 3.5 mph for 30 minutes burn between 120 and 178 calories. A pace of 4 mph will yield a caloric burn between 135 and 200 mph, and a 4.5-mph pace results in a burn ranging from 150 to 222 calories.
Muscles Used in Biking vs. Walking
Riding a stationary bike burns more calories due to the added resistance of pushing downward on the foot pedals. In doing so, the stationary bike targets large muscle groups, such as the thighs and glutes, to torch the extra calories. In addition to working the same muscle groups as the stationary bike, but at a lower intensity, walking also works the calves, hip flexors, abdominal region and tibialis anterior muscles that run along the front of the shins. Wearing weighted gloves while pumping the arms during the walk may also increase caloric burn and improve overall fat burn.
Both walking and stationary bike riding provide health benefits. The American Council on Exercise notes that engaging in a regular walking program may help to improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and increase stamina. An article published in the December 2009 issue of "Harvard Men's Health Watch" explains that regular exercise, which includes riding the stationary bike, may protect against heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, certain cancers and dementia.
Regardless of which activity burns the most calories, the focus ought to be on lifestyle rather than calorie burn alone. Choose an activity that you enjoy and will be able to maintain over an extended period of time. Incorporating proper nutrition and strength training into your daily regimen is crucial for weight-loss success and weight maintenance. Not only does strength training preserve and enhance muscle mass, but it also helps to protect against ailments such as shin splints or backaches. For instance, strengthening the abdominal region allows the abdominal muscles to offer greater back support during biking and walking activities. As for diet, consumption of lean protein helps to repair muscle damage caused by physical activity. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fuel the body more efficiently than simple carbohydrates.
- Harvard Heart Letter: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights; July 2004
- Harvard Men's Health Watch: How Much Exercise Do You Need; December 2009
- MayoClinic.com: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- MayoClinic.com: Can I Lose Weight if My Only Exercise is Walking; Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise Intensity
- MayoClinic.com: Metabolism and Weight Loss
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training
- American Council on Exercise: A Walk a Day
Stephanie Lee began writing in 2000 with concentration on food, travel, fashion and real estate. She has written for Amnesty International and maintains three blogs. Lee holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations from the University of California, Irvine, and an M.B.A. from Concordia University.