Does an Hour in an Indoor Cycling Class Equal a Run?

Compare indoor cycling and running for the best workout.
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In addition to improving your fitness, there are a variety of reasons to exercise, including reducing body fat, increasing muscle mass, reducing blood pressure and building energy. Running and indoor cycling are two very different exercises, but both will provide health benefits. Although there are similarities, the differences will determine what is the best workout for you.

Calories Burned

    Calories burned during a run or indoor cycling varies depending on the intensity of the workout and the weight of a person. In one hour, a person weighing 150 pounds burns 782 calories if running 7 miles per hour, 684 calories if running 6 mph and 576 calories if running 5 mph. The same 150-pound person burns 773 calories during an hour of vigorous indoor cycling and 477 calories during an hour of moderate indoor cycling.

Primary Muscles

    Although there are similarities in muscles activated when running or indoor cycling, there are differences as well. The primary muscles used when running include your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors and calves. The primary muscles used in indoor cycling are your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves.

Secondary and Auxillary Muscles

    Besides the primary muscles, secondary and auxiliary muscles are also activated when either running or cycling. Additional muscles used when running include the biceps core muscles and abdominals. Additional muscles used when indoor cycling include your arm, upper back, shoulder, abdominal and core muscles.

Intensity of Workout

    The intensity of the workouts can be increased for both activities. When running, increase the intensity of your workout by increasing the incline on your treadmill or running up a hill when outdoors. The speed of your run also affects cardiovascular activity.

    When cycling indoors, increase the speed or tension on your bike to increase the intensity. Performing jumps, in which you stand up and and sit down while maintaining a consistent pedal stoke, can also increase the intensity of the workout.

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