For people looking to get into better shape, feel healthier, and extend their quality of life as they age, cycling and running are both great options. Science has consistently proven the benefits of extended cardiovascular exercise and both of these activities fit the bill.
However, there are important differences between cycling and running that you should consider when designing your exercise program. Depending on your situation in life, your preferences, and your health status, one might be preferable to the other.
In the Suburbs
For those of us living in the suburbs, it’s likely there is a designated path or trail nearby your home. Cycling and running are most safely performed in areas where little or no traffic threatens safety, and a trail is a perfect location.
If you are considering cycling or running on streets, consider choosing locations where there are fewer cars such as through quiet neighborhoods or on side streets. Some suburban areas are more bike and pedestrian-friendly than others, so you should use your best judgment in deciding where to get your exercise.
Overall, cycling is generally safer in the suburbs than more densely populated areas of cities.
In the City
City life, for all its advantages in convenience and being “close to the action”, carries its own setbacks – particularly as it pertains to cycling. Reports show that cyclists in the city risk injury from cars trying to use the same lane.
Dense bumper-to-bumper traffic is common in cities, and aggravated drivers can often give in to fits of road rage, both of which are bad news for vulnerable cyclists potentially matched up with a multi-ton vehicle of steel.
For this reason, running is generally preferable to cycling in urban areas. For both runners and cyclists, always wear brightly colored clothing during times of limited visibility like at night.
Risk of Injury
Runners are generally at a higher risk of injury than cyclists because of the nature of the movements. The constant pounding against pavement can contribute to a variety of injuries for runners, particularly for those with poor mechanics or the elderly.
For this reason, many physical therapists recommend their patients undergoing rehabilitation from an injury to renew their physical exercise with cycling rather than running. Injuries to the feet and knees are quite common for runners.
Both running and cycling are ideal ways to get your cardio in daily. Whichever you choose, always make sure you are wearing appropriate protective gear like helmets in the case of cycling and practicing good judgment about where to ride or run.
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