cycling · fitness

Cycling versus walking: Both are good but riding’s better

If you’re cyclist, you probably saw this good news story in your social media newsfeed , shared with delight by cyclists everywhere: New study suggests health benefits of cycling to work are staggering.

“We found that cycling to work was associated with a 41% lower risk of dying overall compared to commuting by car or public transport. Cycle commuters had a 52% lower risk of dying from heart disease and a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer. They also had 46% lower risk of developing heart disease and a 45% lower risk of developing cancer at all. Walking to work was not associated with a lower risk of dying from all causes. Walkers did, however, have a 27% lower risk of heart disease and a 36% lower risk of dying from it.”

I was happy that it answered the question about the health benefits of cycling versus walking. Often studies proclaim health benefits for cycling but don’t compare them to the health benefits of other modes of self-propulsion. Lots of runners, for example, were frustrated by the story which profiled 80 year old cyclists with the health of 20-somethings but didn’t say anything about the anti-aging effects of running and walking.

But what about stress? You have to enjoy it, surely, or at least not be terrified by it. My fave thing about cycling home–when the ride is long enough, right now I’m too close to campus–is how relaxed and happy I feel when I get there. I’ve always associated that with the  health benefits of cycling. But if I was a fearful cyclist, maybe I’d still choose to walk.

I mean, right now I’ve got the world’s shortest bike commute, just 1.5 km. But I can ride without the knee brace so it’s any easy choice.

How about you? Biking or walking? Why?

5 thoughts on “Cycling versus walking: Both are good but riding’s better

  1. I wonder if it’s because cycling naturally builds in more intervals at different intensities (acceleration when the light turns green, etc). I do both – extra miles to or from work in good weather or catching up on audiobooks when it’s too cold for my airways. I have a home gym, too, though, so I’m a big outlier.

  2. I got into the habit of biking when I had a dog because it allowed me to leave later and get home earlier (and minimize accidents on my hardwood floor). I continue because it’s just easier on my body as I age – and I get a bit of a breeze when it’s hot.

  3. The one a person will do and enjoy is better. To me this kind of study is exactly the sort of thing that makes a person abandon activities they love for all the wrong reasons (like running is “better than” swimming).

  4. I love both, but it’s cycling for me. My theory goes like this. If you’re walking or backpacking and you want something, say a drink from the shop, or you see something in the distance you’d like to visit, as a walker it’s going to time, at best half an hour to cover a couple of miles to accomplish your goal. As a cyclist it’s much more simple and a couple of miles is only going to take ten minutes at the most.

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