Both Spinning (indoor cycling) and running on a treadmill have their advantages, and both go a long way toward improving your cardiovascular health. Many people swear by one or the other. However, depending on your goals, the two exercise are definitely very different and one might better suited for you.
Comparing the Calorie Burn
In terms of calories, a 30 minute treadmill running session at 6mph for an 155lb adult will burn around 350 calories. The same size adult will burn around 260 calories in 30 minutes on a Spin bike at a steady pace. However, a Spinning class is much more intense so you can expect to burn anywhere from 400-600 calories if you push yourself. Woman.thenest.com reports that “a 160-pound person can burn over 600 calories per hour at the leisurely pace of 5 mph. Increase the speed to 8 mph and that figure jumps to over 800 per hour.” That’s a whole lot of calories.
According to Spinning.com “an average 40-minute class at a cadence of 80–110 rpm is equivalent to approximately 15–20 miles on the road.” Spinning on a bike is therefore more likely to burn more calories due to the environment. Yet, using intervals in your treadmill training is a great way to ramp up the calories burned in that session. Intervals also increase your metabolic rate after exercise. This means that even after you’ve stopped your activity your metabolism is ramped up from the session. It all comes down to how much effort you are willing to put in.
Consider Your Joints
Spinning is also much more gentle on the joints. For people who experience ankle, hip or knee pain, running on a treadmill can put great stress upon the areas of the body. If you’re landing heel first, this pressure increases drastically. It’s always important to land with you forefoot first and then follow through with your heel by rolling your sole, otherwise you may develop serious joint injuries. Spinning does not have this effect as there is no impact on the lower body.
Mind Your Posture
Although, cycling can also be bad for your posture. Due to the stance that you need to be in alongside the activation of the quadriceps (the muscles on the front of your legs), you can get very tight hips and a bad back. Keeping a neutral spine instead of curving or arching at the lower back is very important for maintaining a strong and healthy spine. Stretching out your legs after your session is also a good idea.
The activation of the quadriceps makes cycling on a Spin bike a great way to build muscle on your legs. Many people who frequently compete in bike races have very large thigh and calf muscle. This makes it perfect for anyone from pro football players to normal people trying to improve the aesthetic of their lower body.
Cross-training – Do Both!
A cross-training routine can be very good if you’re just trying to improve your aerobic fitness or lose some weight. This means that each time you go to exercise you choose a different method. Monday might be running while Wednesday could be spinning then back to running on Friday. Throwing in a bit of swimming, too, can maximize the rewards you get across your whole body. Those who only run may tend to develop knee problems, where as those who only Spin can develop poor posture and tight hips from the forward lean. So the answer may be to mix them up.
At the end of the day both running on a treadmill and indoor cycling can be very good for all fitness goals. If you tend to experience joint problems in your lower body then cycling will be the better option. If you’re more prone to rounding your back and maintaining poor posture then you might want to think about running instead. A cross training regime where you utilize both cardio methods alongside others such as swimming is best so that you can reap various different rewards without causing any negative effects caused by repetitive strain. If you play a sport then choose whichever will transfer the best. Running will be better for football and athletics where as cycling will be better for rugby and power sports.
Choose the exercise which suits you best. Make sure that it’s something you enjoy and something that you can commit to. Choosing one because it burns 50 more calories over the other even though you hate it will mean that you’ll give up after a while anyway. The best exercise is the one that you can do best and do for a long time.