Some of us are yogis. Some are gym gals lifting weights. And some of us are running or spinning fans. So, let’s talk about spinning and running: which is better?
We all know we need cardio, but here’s a reminder. I’m quoting straight from the top: Mayo Clinic’s reasons for cardio. It’s a good reminder for all of us.
Benefits of cardio (according to Mayo Clinic)
- Helps you keep a healthy weight: Clearly.
- Increases stamina: You’ll be tired at first of course, but after a few weeks your stamina will increase and you will notice an increase in energy throughout the day.
- Boosts your immune system: Helps ward off colds and viruses.
- Reduces health risks: All those nasty diseases such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and certain types of cancer among others.
- Manages chronic illness: Lowers blood pressure and if you have coronary artery disease, cardio helps to manage this.
- Strengthens your heart: A stronger heart doesn’t need to beat as fast and it pumps blood more efficiently throughout the body.
- Keeps arteries clear: Lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and boosts HDL (good cholesterol).
- Boosts your mood: Cardio releases endorphins which help ease depression and reduces anxiety.
- You stay active and independent as you age: Along with keeping mobility as you age, it also keeps your mind sharp. Studies have found that regular physical activity may help protect memory, reasoning, judgment and thinking skills (cognitive function) in older adults, and may improve cognitive function in young adults. Some studies suggest that it can even help prevent the onset of dementia.
- Live longer: Studies show those who do regular cardio live longer than those who don’t. Nuff said.
Okay, we’ve gone through why you need to do cardio. Now, I’m going to go over 2 popular cardio workouts to see which is better.
Spinning vs. Running
These are two completely different workouts…. and people swear by both. There’s benefits and risks to both so let’s dive in shall we!
1. Lower risk of injury: both
With the pounding on the pavement during a run you would automatically assume the winner of this one would be spin, but it’s not that simple. If you don’t have your bike adjusted correctly, a.k.a you jump on last second, clip on and go, you could be doing it with bad posture, which is bad on your joints and your back.
You’re doing it wrong: Spinning
The biggest mistake with the bike adjustment is having the seat too low. When you’re standing next to your bike, make sure your seat is aligned with your hip bones. Next, adjust your handlebars to align with your seat. The handlebars are there to assist your ride, the weight should fall to your legs. Lastly, don’t position your handlebars and seat too close together. You want to have a long, straight back, no arching or humping over.
You’re doing it wrong: Running
According to runnersworld.com, you should keep your head and chest up, wear good shoes and run on soft pavement. If you’re a street runner, change the side of the street you run on frequently, since there’s a slight slope there. A short quick stride is safer and better for your joints than a longer stride (something I was surprised to learn).
Toe to heel or heel to toe? What? Yes, 15% of runners run toe to heel. Which is safer? Lately, there’s been a school of thought that this way is safer on your joints. Makes sense, thinking that it would be a softer land than crashing onto your heels first. Most recreational runners are heel foot and almost all elite distance runners are forefoot or mid foot strikers. What I do know is that a drastic change to your form isn’t good, but if you want to change do it gradually.
2. Which is better for building muscle: Spin
Spinning is great for the thighs, glutes and calves. Notice serious cyclists have killer quads. Also, if you go to a spin class that incorporates pushups on the bike, even better!
3. The better calorie burner: both
I was surprised to learn this. I always assume spin, but it depends on how you spin and how you run!
You’re doing it wrong: Spin
If you go to a spin class and keep the resistance low and go at a moderate pace, yes you’ll burn calories, but not like you would with sprints and intervals with high resistance. If you do a HIIT ride, that will burn some serious calories. For a 130 pound woman doing a moderate level 45 minute spin class you’ll burn 310 calories. If you do an intense 45 minute class you’ll burn 503 calories. That’s a big difference!
You’re doing it wrong: Running
If you’re a 130 woman running 5 mph for 45 minutes you’ll burn 374 calories. Increase that to 8 mph and you’ll burn 597. It all depends on how fast you run. If you go out for a “jog”, you’ll burn some calories, but not as much if you go for a “run”. If you’re not a fast runner or you can’t keep it up for a long period of time, be sure to incorporate some sprints within your run. That’s where you will burn off the cookies.
By the way…here’s a great resource for calories burned according to body type and exercise.
4. The least expensive: Running
All you need is yourself and a good pair of running shoes. I know a goofy guy who runs in jeans. Probably chaffing himself. Oh well, at least he’s running.
What’s the answer?
Both! It depends on your age, body type, the way you do it. I ran for 20 years, and we’ve lived in hot and cold climates. It didn’t matter if it was raining, snowing or 20 degrees outside, I always loved it. The sense of freedom running outside and the inner peace it brings is unmatched. But, since I was blessed with bad joints that didn’t allow me to continue, so I had to find something different. Not everyone is built like that by the way. I really miss it, but I’m a devoted spinner now.
If you run, just make sure you do it with proper form and shoes. If you spin, be sure to join an excellent class that will push you and doesn’t remain stagnant. I love mine! They’re always switching it up and pushing the advanced riders!
But, really the fact that you’re getting out there and doing something is the absolute best thing you can do. In the end, you should just listen to your body and do what feels right!