Walking vs Stationary Bike: Is Riding a Stationary Bike as Good as Walking?

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robbie ferri headshot
By Robbie Ferri CPT

CPT & Indoor Cycling Instructor

Walking vs Stationary Bike: Is Riding a Stationary Bike as Good as Walking?

When it comes to staying in shape, you have many options for cardiovascular fitness. There’s running, walking, cycling, skipping, and even swimming. A question we are often asked by our amazing subscribers is, “Is riding a stationary bike as good as walking?” 

As a personal trainer for many years, I have often recommended riding a bike as a substitute for walking, but is it as good? This article will tell you everything you need to know about indoor cycling and how to compare it to walking. We will be discussing:

  • What You Need To Know About Riding A Stationary Bike
  • What You Need To Know About Walking 
  • Comparing Riding To Walking
  • Is Riding A Stationary Bike As Good As Walking?
riding a spin bike

What You Need To Know About Riding A Stationary Bike

Calorie Burn: 300-600 Per Hour

Impact: Low

Muscles Used: Practically Most Of The Body, Mainly Lower

Equipment Required: Bike, Cycling Kit

Weather Friendly: Year Round 

Location: Indoors

Riding a stationary bike is a lot of fun and, in recent years, has become very popular with the rise of companies such as Peloton and NordicTrack. It’s a great way to stay in shape, can be done in your own home, and is as easy as, well, riding a bike

Stationary cycling is a great way to train the body, and you can burn between 300-600 calories an hour. You have adjustable resistance, and the impact on the body is low. It focuses on the lower part of the body, and if you train dynamically with a lot of standing, the upper part too. 

You can train most days but get the most benefit from around 4 times per week, allowing time for recovery. You can download plenty of applications to improve the experience and even go into online classes. 

walking

What You Need To Know About Walking

Calorie Burn: 100-300 Per Hour

Impact: Low To Medium

Muscles Used: Lower Body

Equipment Required: Shoes

Weather Friendly: Year Round, Winter Can Be Challenging

Location: Indoor Or Outdoors

Walking is the most natural movement possible for a human being when it comes to exercise. It’s what we have been doing since humanity started and even was how we hunted years ago. We didn’t run after our prey. We walked after it and used endurance over speed.

Walking can burn anywhere from 100 to 300 calories an hour and can be challenging to adjust the intensity, unlike cycling or running. It has an incredibly low impact on the body. It uses many muscles in the body’s lower part, but you will find the upper only works slightly. 

You only require shoes, and for the best experience, you will want to be outdoors. This can make winter challenging and walking quite weather-dependent. You might find in winter you are going to be affected by the weather a lot. 

riding a spin bike with lower position

Comparing Riding To Walking

To answer the question of whether riding a stationary bike is as good as walking, we need to compare them against each other to see if it’s as good. Here’s what you need to know. 

Calorie Burn

When it comes to calorie burn, not only are you doing much more than walking, but you also can regular it much better. You can go nice and east and burn 300 calories on a relaxing indoor ride or go crazy and burn 600 calories. 

This means you can cycle indoors and get much more for your time and burn more calories if required. To burn more calories walking, you have to turn it into a run, which isn’t very good when it comes to impact on the joints. 

Body Impact

Cycling on a stationary bike has very little impact on the body. In fact, many medical professionals recommend it for people who struggle with knee and hip issues. At high intensity, it can put a lot of pressure on the joints if the rider isn’t set up correctly. 

Walking is also very low impact, but it still offers slightly more impact than indoor cycling, done at a slower pace. If you were to be power walking for long periods of time, it can stress the joints further, but nothing compared to running.

walking with my sport shoes

Muscles Used

To get the best bang for your buck, you need to use as many muscles as possible. Most people think you only use your lower body when cycling, but that isn’t always true. In stand, you actually put a lot of pressure on the core and the upper body.

Walking is very much just a lower body and core worker. Although you are swinging your arms, it’s not putting pressure on you, and you’re not going to be growing strong arms while going out for a walk. Between both of them, indoor cycling, if done correctly, can use more muscles.

IMG 4025

Weather Friendly

Indoor cycling is great all year round. You never need to worry about what’s going on outside because the weather isn’t going to affect you. When it comes to walking, which is typically done outside, you don’t always get an amazing experience. 

Although the weather is guaranteed for indoor cycling, there’s something quite lovely about going walking in different weathers. When it’s nice and sunny, you can enjoy a walk in a forest or go for a cold walk on the beach. That is something you might miss when you train indoors.

You could use a treadmill to walk indoors but these are known for taking up a lot of space and can make a fair amount of noise to upset your neighbours. 

Variety And Setting

When it comes to walking and indoor cycling, the different settings are a very big factor. In indoor cycling, you are stuck indoors and really only have a tablet or a TV for entertainment. To start with, this is fine, but it can get a little tedious after a while. 

Walking can take you anywhere, and that’s something that really does make it very different. You can go into cities for a walk, forests, beaches, and the options for exploration is excellent. Compared to indoor cycling, walking does offer more settings. 

riding a spin bike while holding the handlebars

Recovery

Another factor between walking and indoor cycling is recovery. With indoor cycling being a more natural movement for the body and not one we tend to do daily, you can expect an amount of recovery required, especially after a hard session.

When it comes to walking, it’s such a natural movement that your body recovers very quickly and is ready to go the next day or even a few hours later. You definitely will find walking is much easier to do very regularly. 

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Walking Vs Exercise Bike For Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, it all comes down to calories in and calories out. The key is burning more calories that you are eating. The beauty of using an exercise bike is that you burn a lot more calories compared to walking and also the body burns more calories in recovery.

If you are looking to lose weight quickly then an exercise bike could be a great tool to speed up the process compared to walking. Both forms of exercise are great but one hour on the bike could be equivalent to 2-3 hours of walking.

Is Riding A Stationary Bike As Good As Walking?

In some ways, riding a stationary bike can be better than walking. You can go to higher intensities, there’s very little impact on the body, the weather does not govern you, and you use a lot of muscles. 

Walking does take you outside, you can do it pretty much anywhere, and it’s a very natural movement for the body. It really comes down to what you enjoy more, but they both are a great way to exercise. 

walking or stationary bike
Robbie Ferri CPT

Robbie from “Riding with Robbie” is a Personal Trainer living in in Norfolk, UK. He has bikepacked all over the World, and also raced ultra distance at a top-level. He has worked closely with industry leaders such as Shimano.

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