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Walking or Biking: Which is Better for Weight Loss?

A trainer breaks down each activity's calorie-burning potential.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

When it comes to shedding extra pounds, two of the most practical and accessible exercises are walking and biking. Both offer fantastic health benefits, but the big question is, which one is better for weight loss?

Deciding between walking or biking isn't just a matter of preference; it involves looking at how each activity affects your body, how many calories you can burn, and how easily these exercises can fit into your daily routine. Understanding the nuances between walking and biking can help you decide which exercise is most effective for you.

We'll compare each activity's calorie-burning potential, explore its broader health benefits beyond weight loss, and consider how your personal preferences and lifestyle can influence your choice. By the end, you'll understand whether walking or biking is the better option for your weight-loss journey.

Now, let's get started!

Walking versus biking: the calorie burn comparison

mature couple power walking

First things first: Let's talk calories. The number of calories you burn during any exercise depends on several factors, including weight, intensity level, and workout duration.

On average, a 155-pound person walking briskly (about 4 miles per hour) can burn roughly 175 calories in 30 minutes and 350 calories per hour. That's not bad for an activity you can do almost anywhere without any special equipment!

Conversely, biking can significantly ramp up the calorie burn if you increase the intensity. The same 155-pound person can burn about 288 calories in 30 minutes and 576 calories per hour cycling at a moderate pace (around 12 to 14 mph). Bump up the mph to 16 to 19; that individual can torch approximately 432 calories in 30 minutes and 864 calories in an hour.

So, if you're looking strictly at calorie expenditure, biking has a slight edge over walking, particularly at higher intensities. However, it's important to note that consistency is key. If you're more likely to walk regularly because you find it more enjoyable or convenient, the overall calorie burn over time might be higher than sporadic, intense biking sessions.

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The health benefits of walking and biking beyond weight loss:

man bike riding, concept of best ways to burn 100 calories

While walking and biking are great for burning calories, they also offer many other health benefits that you should pay attention to.

Walking is a low-impact exercise, making it an excellent option for people with joint issues or those recovering from injuries. It can improve cardiovascular health, strengthen bones, and boost mood by releasing endorphins. Plus, it's a fantastic way to incorporate more movement into your day, whether commuting to work, running errands, or just enjoying a stroll.

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Biking, meanwhile, provides a more intense cardiovascular workout, which can lead to improved heart health and lung capacity. It's also a low-impact exercise, but it can engage a broader range of muscles, particularly in the lower body, including the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Biking can be particularly beneficial for building muscle strength and endurance, which can help boost your metabolism. Additionally, biking can be a fun and adventurous way to explore new areas, making exercise feel less like a chore and more like an enjoyable part of your routine.

Both walking and biking offer not just physical health benefits but also significant mental health benefits. Walking and biking outdoors can reduce stress, improve mood, and provide a sense of relaxation and connection with nature. These psychological benefits are not just a bonus; they are an integral part of any fitness regimen, as they can help you stay motivated and consistent in the long run. So, by choosing walking or biking, you're not just investing in your physical health but also in your mental well-being.

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How to choose between walking versus biking for your weight-loss goals:

close-up woman walking sneakers

Choosing between walking and biking ultimately comes down to what fits best into your lifestyle and aligns with your personal preferences and goals.

Walking might be the better option if you're starting out on your fitness journey or have concerns about joint health. It's gentle on the body, easy to integrate into daily life, and requires no special equipment. You can do it almost anywhere and anytime, making it a highly flexible exercise choice.

Biking could be the way to go if you're looking for a higher-intensity workout and enjoy the thrill of cycling. It's a fantastic way to burn more calories quickly, build muscle, and improve cardiovascular fitness. Investing in a good bike and some essential gear can open up a whole new world of fitness opportunities, from commuting to work to exploring scenic trails on weekends.

How To Do Interval Walking for Weight Loss

Ultimately, the best exercise for weight loss is what you enjoy and can stick with consistently. Both walking and biking offer incredible benefits and can be part of a balanced fitness routine. So, instead of viewing it as a chore, consider it an opportunity to explore new areas, connect with nature, or simply enjoy some 'me' time.

By finding enjoyable ways to stay active, you can make your weight-loss journey more pleasant and increase your chances of long-term success.

Jarrod Nobbe, MA, CSCS
Jarrod Nobbe is a USAW National Coach, Sports Performance Coach, Personal Trainer, and writer, and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 12 years. Read more about Jarrod
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