Is Cycling Better Than Running for Knees? (Pros & Cons)

Deciding to start exercising is a great first step, but finding the right workout routine can be overwhelming. For some, running can be too challenging, while others struggle with cycling due to balance issues. However, determining whether cycling is better than running for knee health is a crucial factor in selecting the right method of exercise. By understanding the benefits and potential drawbacks of each, you can make an informed choice and begin your fitness journey with confidence.

Is Cycling Better Than Running for Knees? According to Dr. Hirofumi Tanaka (Professor of kinesiology at the University of Texas in Austin), cycling is far better for your knees than running. Since cycling is a non-weight-bearing activity, your knees don’t need to bear the full weight of your body, which makes cycling better.

Is Cycling Better Than Running for Knees

Cycling Vs Running

When it comes to selecting the right exercise, understanding how cycling and running compare is essential. However, it’s important to note that any physical activity is better than none, even if it’s just walking. As someone who has stumbled due to clumsiness, I know firsthand how important safety is.

One advantage of cycling is that it’s a non-weight-bearing activity. Once you hop on the bike and adjust the seat correctly, you can pedal away without putting too much strain on your legs. By effectively extending your legs, you’ll reduce the impact on your joints and minimize the risk of injury.

On the other hand, running can be more daunting due to the constant pressure placed on the legs with each stride. According to a study done by Temple Health, “Runner’s Knee” accounts for a large percentage of injuries sustained by running.

They have found that around 30% of female runners and 25% of male runners are affected by patellofemoral pain syndrome, which directly affects the knees of the runner. When this happens, the cartilage inside the knee will get irritated and inflammation can start, which causes pain whenever you perform exercises that require the knee to bend or move. 

How Many Calories Does Cycling And Running Burn?

runners on the road

One thing I often struggle with is the gut that simply does not want to go away. I have asked myself on numerous occasions if running or cycling burns more belly fat. However, when I sit in bed on YouTube and listen to an expert like Jeff Cavaliere (Athlean-X), it can be frustrating to find out that targeted fat loss is impossible. 

The American College of Sports Medicine might be one of your best friends when looking to find out how many calories you will burn. There are hundreds of online calorie counters online, but not all of them are accurate. 

According to the American College, a 150-pound person would burn around 1,000 calories per hour when running at a brisk pace. Keep in mind that this is more than 7 MPH constantly and while it might seem like plenty of calories, very few people can sustain this pace for even 10 minutes, not to mention a full hour.

If we transfer this same body composition and weight over to cycling, I have tested to find that a 150-pound person can burn close to 850 calories when pedaling their bike at around 16 – 19 MPH on a flat surface. This is not to mention the additional calories they will burn when they speed up or when they are climbing uphill.

In summary, the calorie debate between cycling and running favors the latter, as it burns more calories in less time. However, running comes with its share of complications and risks, making it a frustrating option for many. It’s undoubtedly harder and requires more consistency than cycling.

How Cycling Vs Running Affects Other Fitness Aspects

women cyclist on the road

When faced with the decision of whether to invest in a new bike or running shoes, I needed to evaluate which form of exercise would benefit me the most. To do this, I asked myself several important questions, such as “Is cycling better than running for cardiovascular health?”

To get a better understanding, I consulted with multiple experts and personal trainers to hear their recommendations. Through these discussions, I was able to ask and answer a series of key questions to inform my decision. Here are some of the questions I considered, both personally and with the help of the experts:

Is Cycling Better Than Walking?

Answering this question was relatively straightforward and didn’t require delving too deep into the science. While walking is an effective way to lose weight and improve fitness, it can be time-consuming. As someone who works 12-hour days, I simply couldn’t spare 2-3 hours a day to burn 500 calories through walking alone. That said, I still enjoy going on the occasional hiking trip with friends and family on weekends.

Is Cycling Better Than Running For Stamina?

In terms of stamina, running takes the lead, according to a personal friend of mine who is passionate about fitness and has trained as a personal trainer. As she explained, running puts a greater strain on your lungs and heart, allowing you to build up endurance more quickly and easily than other forms of exercise. This extra challenge is what sets running apart and makes it such an effective way to boost cardiovascular fitness.

The problem is that even though it is faster, it is not always easier. Cycling is a sport, which allows you to take rest when you feel tired. You don’t need to stop like you do in running and can simply lower the gear and pedal with less cadence. This will still count as working out and will help you build up and sustain the stamina needed for longer endurance workouts.

Is Cycling Better Than Running For Your Heart?

Both cycling and running provide excellent cardiovascular benefits. Running is particularly effective for quickly spiking your heart rate, while cycling is a less strenuous option that allows you to maintain a more constant heart rate. This steady rhythm helps to strengthen your heart and lower your levels of HDL cholesterol, making cycling an excellent choice for those looking to improve their heart health. Ultimately, whether you choose to cycle or run, incorporating either or both into your exercise routine can provide significant benefits for your heart and overall health. We should also mention that running could be better for bone health than cycling.

Cycling Vs Running Pros & Cons

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of cycling and running, let’s take a closer look at each. By examining the pros and cons of each form of exercise, you can make an informed decision about which is best for you and your fitness goals.

Pros And Cons Of Cycling


  • Easier to do for longer periods
  • Less strain on the knees and other joints
  • Non-weight bearing activity
  • Can be used as a means of transportation
  • Cadence and power input can easily be varied


  • You need a bike
  • Some people simply cannot ride a bike
  • The risk of falling is real and dangerous

Pros And Cons Of Running


  • Builds stamina faster
  • Burns more calories than cycling for the same effort
  • Inexpensive to start
  • You can go running anywhere you find yourself


  • Puts plenty of strain on the body
  • Tough to maintain your running aptitude
  • It can be dangerous if you live in a high-crime area

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cycling As Effective As Running?

When it comes to comparing cycling and running, both forms of exercise can be effective, depending on your goals. If your primary objective is to quickly improve your fitness and build up your endurance, running is likely the better choice.

However, if you’re dealing with injuries or have a bit more patience, cycling can be a great alternative. While it may take longer to see significant improvements in stamina, the lower-impact nature of cycling can help you avoid further injuries and maintain a consistent workout routine over time. Ultimately, the key is to choose the exercise that best aligns with your goals, fitness level, and personal preferences, ensuring that you can stay motivated and committed to achieving your desired outcomes.

Is Cycling Better For Your Core

While both cycling and running can strengthen your core muscles, running has the advantage of burning more calories in a shorter period, leading to faster fat loss. As a result, the visible toning of your core muscles may be more pronounced with running.
That said, both forms of exercise can be effective for improving your core strength.

Running and cycling both require the engagement of your core muscles to maintain proper form and stability. By focusing on keeping your core muscles engaged and strong, you can maximize the benefits of either activity and improve your overall fitness level.

Is Cycling Better For Weight Management?

Both cycling and running can be effective for weight management, but running allows you to burn calories at a faster rate than cycling. However, for those looking for a low-impact option or who simply enjoy the freedom of cycling, biking can be a great way to manage weight.

Cycling can be a low-stress form of exercise that allows you to explore your surroundings and get fresh air while also burning calories. By maintaining a consistent pace and pushing yourself to go a little further or faster each time, you can gradually increase your fitness level and manage your weight effectively. Ultimately, the key is to find an exercise routine that you enjoy and can stick to consistently, whether that’s running, cycling, or another form of physical activity.

How Much Cycling Is Equal To Running?

When it comes to comparing cycling and running, it’s important to consider your specific goals and fitness level. However, as a general rule of thumb, a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3 is often used when comparing the two forms of exercise.

This means that for every mile you run, you would need to cycle 2-3 miles to achieve similar benefits. While this ratio is not an exact science and may vary depending on factors such as intensity, terrain, and individual fitness level, it can provide a useful guideline for those looking to compare the two activities.

Ultimately, the best way to determine which form of exercise is right for you is to try both and see how your body responds. By incorporating a mix of cycling and running into your exercise routine, you can enjoy the unique benefits of each and improve your overall fitness and health.

Is Cycling Better Than Running for Knees Summary

Regardless of whether you choose running or cycling as your preferred workout method, both can provide significant benefits for your health and fitness. However, for those with knee issues, cycling may be the better option as it places less weight on your knees compared to running.

Ultimately, the choice between cycling and running comes down to personal preference, fitness level, and individual goals. Both activities offer unique benefits and can be effective for improving cardiovascular health, building endurance, and managing weight.

Whether you prefer the intensity of running or the lower-impact nature of cycling, the key is to find an exercise routine that you enjoy and can stick to consistently. By making physical activity a regular part of your routine, you can improve your overall health and well-being, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and enjoy a better quality of life.

About Martin

I am Martin, I am the author of this blog. My main interests include cycling. That's why this blog was created. I have always been interested in technology and how bicycles are made, so I built one myself.

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