If you're trying to decide between two workouts, it's often a good idea to look at the facts. If you're trying to decide between in-line skating and cycling, know first that the two offer similar cardiovascular benefits. Depending on the intensity of the exercise, both workouts offer an athlete the chance to get an aerobic or anaerobic workout. From there, if your goal is weight loss, you'll want to look at the number of calories burned; if you want to tone certain muscles, consider the muscles used. Finally, you'll want to determine which exercise actually makes you want to get up and move your body.
If your goal is to lose weight, then counting calories is likely a big part of your weight loss regimen. According to the Physical Activity Calculator provided by the American Council on Exercise, if a 150-pound person goes in-line skating for 30 minutes at a casual pace, he will burn an estimated 374 calories. A person of the same weight will burn 136 calories cycling at a slow pace of 5.5 mph for 30 minutes, 272 calories cycling at a moderate pace of 12 to 15 mph, and 408 calories cycling at a racing speed of 16 to 19 mph. When you're comparing two casual workouts, in-line skating burns more calories -- though by cycling faster, you could burn as many calories as you would during a casual skate.
Both in-line skating and cycling are lower-body workouts, but they use some different muscles. During a cycling workout, the primary muscles used are the quadriceps and hamstrings, better known as the thigh muscles. Additionally, the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the calves are at work, as are the muscles of the gluteus maximus -- better known as the butt.
In-Line Skating Muscles
The muscles used during in-line skating include the quadriceps, hamstrings and gastrocnemus of the calf to move the legs forward and back, extending and flexing the hips, knees and ankles. In-line skating also requires use of the hip adductors and abductors. If you have problem areas, choosing one exercise over the other may help -- however, remember that spot reduction of those problem areas is a myth. In order to lose fat, you'll have to burn more calories than you eat.
The Better Workout
When it comes to deciding which is the better workout, the decision may come down to personal preference. It is possible to burn just as many calories cycling as you do in-line skating, but you might feel like you're working harder if you cycle to burn them. Consider other factors such as the availability of sidewalks, bike lanes or other accessibility; if you plan to use your wheels to get to work, for example, not having adequate sidewalks may nix your plans to in-line skate. However, not having a place to park your bike at work may make it more feasible to skate. If you have access to an indoor track, skating may be better for the cooler winter months. In the end, choose the activity that keeps you motivated -- the key to good health is to get regular exercise, no matter what form it takes.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.