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What Is Better: 10,000 Steps or an Hour of Cycling?

By Jiri Kaloc

Have you heard the recommendation to walk at least 10,000 steps every day to stay healthy? Sounds good, but what if you’d rather ride your bike? Which way of keeping healthy is more effective? Let’s take a closer look.

Walking takes up more time

Walking 10,000 steps would transport the average person about 8 km (5 mi). If we consider the average speed of walking, 5 km/h (3 mph), then it would take roughly 1 hour and 36 minutes to complete the daily amount of steps.

Cycling burns more calories

The average walking speed of 5 km/h (3 mph) makes the average person burn approximately 232 kcal per hour. So the whole distance of 8 km, or 10,000 steps, will make you burn about 371 kcal in total. Cycling at a moderate speed of 20 km/h (12 mph) burns approximately 563 kcal per hour. And the difference is even bigger when we increase the intensity. A fast walking speed of 6.5 km/h (4 mph) burns 352 kcal per hour, while a fast cycling speed of 30 km/h (19 mph) burns 844 kcal per hour.

UCI Road World Championships
Cycling burns more calories and is better for obesity prevention. © Profimedia

Cycling is better for obesity prevention

Researchers from London investigated the relationship between various commuting methods and obesity risk. Data from 150,000 participants revealed that both walking and cycling showed better results than taking a car or public transport. Walking was associated with significantly reduced BMI and body fat, but to a lesser extent than cycling. The average study participant who cycled to work would weigh about 5 kg less than a similar person commuting by car.

Walking doesn’t require any equipment

These numbers don’t mean much if you don’t do the exercise in question, and walking has the upper hand here. Anyone can go for a walk under almost any circumstances. With cycling, you need a bicycle, ideally a well-maintained one; you also need a helmet and somewhere to ride.

What suits you better? Cycling or walking? © Simon Wilkinson

Is cycling better?

If you love it, then yes! Cycling is more time-efficient, burns more calories, and is better at keeping you fit and slim. And the “disadvantage” of having to own and maintain a bike is probably something you enjoy anyway. But if cycling is not your thing, walking will do the job too – anything but sitting on your butt!