Walking vs. Biking | Which Path is More Effective?

A woman walking holding her hands on the top of her head, catching her breath from her run on an outdoor pathway between trees during a sunrise.

Walking and biking are some of the most popular and effective forms of exercise. Both activities offer numerous health benefits, including increased calorie burn, improved muscle strength, and weight loss. 

However, there are some key differences between walking and biking that can make one of these cardio exercises more suitable for you and your fitness goals. Let’s explore the differences between walking and bike riding, including calories burned, muscles worked, weight loss, and mental health benefits.

The team at EverFlex Fitness is here to help provide guidance on how to choose the right activity for your fitness goals.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking vs Biking?

When considering different exercises, typically the buzzwords “burning calories” comes to mind. So how many calories are you going to burn when you walk versus when you bike?

Both walking and biking can help you burn calories and burn fat. (Remember that losing fat results from a combination of exercise and diet, so you can’t rely solely on walking or biking for burning fat.) The number of calories burned during each activity will depend on various factors, including your weight, age, and intensity level. 

On average, a person can burn around 100–260 calories per half-hour of walking, while biking can burn up to 200–600 calories in the same amount of time.

This means that biking is generally more effective for burning calories than walking.

Two men biking on a trail through a grassy field

Comparing Intensity

We can use metabolic equivalent of task (METs) to indicate the intensity of the workout. The intensity of the workout plays a significant role in the number of calories you will burn. Let’s break it down. According to the CDC, moderate activity (3.0 to 6.0 METs) can burn 3.5 to 7 calories a minute. Vigorous activity (6.0 METs or greater) can burn more than 7 calories per minute.

Biking: METs Table

METsAverage Calories Burned in 30 min. for a 125 lb IndividualAverage Calories Burned in 30 min. for a 155 lb IndividualAverage Calories Burned in 30 min. for a 185 lb Individual
Bicycling 5–9 mph (light effort)4.0119148176
Bicycling 10–12 mph (light to moderate effort)6.0179221264
Bicycling 12–14 mph(moderate effort)8.0230295352
Bicycling 14–16 mph (vigorous effort)10.0298369441

Walking: METs Table

METsAverage Calories Burned in 30 min. for a 125 lb IndividualAverage Calories Burned in 30 min. for a 155 lb IndividualAverage Calories Burned in 30 min. for a 185 lb Individual
Walking for pleasure 3 mph (light effort)3.5104129154
Walking 4 mph (brisk pace/moderate effort)4.0119148176
Walking uphill 3.5 mph (vigorous effort)6.0179221264

Which is Best for Weight Loss and Burning Fat?

Weight loss and fat reduction depends on various factors (age, lifestyle, genetics, metabolism), as well as your diet and exercise routine. Walking can help you burn calories and reduce body fat, but it may take longer to see significant results. 

Biking can help you lose weight and reduce body fat more quickly, especially if you engage in high-intensity biking sessions.

Walking vs Biking: Building Muscle and Strength

When choosing an exercise right for your goals and training plan, it’s important to understand what muscles and muscle groups each exercise targets. 

Walking primarily targets your leg muscles, including:

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Gluteals
  • Abductors
  • Calves

Biking, on the other hand, targets a wider range of muscle groups, including:

  • Legs
    • Quadriceps
    • Hamstrings
    • Calves
  • Gluteals
  • Core
  • Back
  • Upper body
    • Biceps
    • Triceps
    • Deltoids

The muscles in the upper body are activated during biking as it requires you to use your arms to steer and your core to maintain balance. As a result, biking is generally more effective at engaging muscle and improving overall strength than walking.

Potential Injuries

Walking and biking are both considered low-impact activities, which means they are less likely to cause injuries than high-impact activities like running or jumping. However, there is still a risk of injury associated with both activities. 

Walking can cause strain on your joints, especially if you walk on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt. Biking can also cause strain on your joints, especially if you ride for long periods of time or on uneven terrain. 

To minimize the risk of injury, it is important to wear appropriate footwear and protective gear, and to start with low-intensity workouts before increasing your intensity level.

A close up view of a mans black, red and white running shoes, titling his right heel upwards showcasing the outsole of the shoe

The Mental Health Benefits of Walking & Biking

Exercise not only benefits your physical health, but can greatly impact your mental health as well. Exercise is shown to boost the production of endorphins, which are natural mood-elevating chemicals in the brain, therefore improving overall mood. 

Walking and biking are also two forms of exercise that can be done outside—another contributor to better mental health. Being outside exposes you to more sunlight and can help increase your vitamin D levels, which play a crucial role in mental health. Not to mention being outside in the sights, sounds, and smells of natural environments can promote relaxation and improve mood.

Weighing Out the Pros & Cons

If you’re deciding between walking and biking, consider the pros and cons of each. While these two exercises share some similarities, there are key differences between the two that can impact your exercise goals and how easily you can access each activity.



  • Low impact. Walking is easy on your joints and muscles, making it an ideal exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels.
  • Easily accessible. Walking is an exercise you can do almost anywhere with little to no equipment.
  • Improved cardio. By increasing your heart rate, you strengthen your heart and lungs.
  • Improved mood & mental health. Walking can help reduce stress levels and symptoms of depression and anxiety to improve your overall mental health.
  • Reduced risk of chronic diseases. Walking, and exercise in general, can help reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
  • Improved bone health. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that can help strengthen your bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Increased energy & stamina. Walking regularly can help increase your energy levels and improve your stamina, making it easier to perform everyday tasks and activities.


  • Limited intensity. Walking may not provide as much intensity as other forms of exercise, such as running or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which may be necessary for some people to achieve their fitness goals.
  • Limited strengthening. Walking can help improve cardiovascular fitness and lower body endurance, but it may not provide enough resistance to effectively strengthen muscles or promote muscle growth.
  • Weather-dependent. Walking is a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, but isn’t always possible, as enjoyable, or safe in extreme weather conditions
  • Injury risk. Although walking is considered a low-impact activity, there is still a risk of injury from slips, falls, or overuse injuries such as shin splints or plantar fasciitis.



  • Improved cardiovascular health. Biking is an excellent aerobic exercise that can help improve your cardiovascular health by increasing your heart rate and strengthening your heart and lungs.
  • Low-impact exercise. Biking is a low-impact exercise that is easier on your joints and muscles than other forms of exercise such as running
  • Weight management. Biking can help you burn calories and maintain a healthy weight and build lean muscle mass, helping reduce the risk of chronic health conditions.
  • Improved muscle strength & endurance. Biking can help improve muscle strength and endurance in your legs, glutes, and core.
  • Reduced stress & improved mental health. Biking, and exercise in general, can be a great way to reduce stress and boost your mood.
  • Eco-friendly—biking is an eco-friendly mode of transportation that can help reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier planet.


  • Cost. Biking can be an expensive hobby, especially if you’re interested in purchasing a high-quality bike, gear, and accessories.
  • Weather-dependent. Biking outdoors may not be feasible or safe in extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow, or extreme heat.
  • Risk of injury. Falls, collisions, or accidents can happen, making it important to wear a helmet and follow safety guidelines.
  • Traffic hazards. Biking in traffic requires extra attention and caution to avoid collisions.
  • Limited accessibility. Biking may not be accessible to everyone, especially those with physical disabilities or limited mobility.
A person riding a road bike next to a grassy field

Outdoor Biking vs Indoor Biking

Biking outdoors allows you to experience the fresh air and sights nature has to offer, while exploring new terrains. Depending on where you’re biking, you can ride through a mix of uphill battles and downhill cruises to test your strength and endurance. Outdoor biking also benefits your core strength and stability as you navigate your way through the paths.

While biking outdoors is a great way to get outside, it can be heavily dependent on weather. Wind, rain, snow, and more can all affect your ability to go for a ride.

On the other hand, indoor biking is convenient and accessible as it can be done regardless of weather conditions or time of day. 

Indoor biking also allows you to control the intensity and resistance of your workout, making it easier to monitor your progress and set specific fitness goals. You can also choose between a variety of workout options and programs, such as virtual classes or customized training programs.

A Harvard study shows how great a calorie-burner biking can be. In 30 minutes, you can achieve a great workout. But let’s compare the calories burned when biking outdoors versus indoors for 30 minutes:

  • A 125 lb individual will burn on average 210–315 calories biking indoors and 240–495 calories biking outdoors (both based on speed and intensity).
  • A 155 lb individual will burn on average 260–391 calories biking indoors and 298–614 calories biking outdoors (both based on speed and intensity).
  • A 185 lb individual will be on average 311–466 calories biking indoors and 355–733 calories biking outdoors (both based on speed and intensity).

The choice between outdoor biking and indoor biking depends on your personal preferences and fitness goals. Chatting with a personal trainer can help guide you in deciding which activity is right for your lifestyle.

Outdoor Walking vs Indoor Walking

When comparing walking outside versus inside, the greatest difference to highlight is the environment in which each exercise takes place.

Outdoor walking offers more variability in terrain, inclines, and surfaces, which can help strengthen your muscles and provide a great cardiovascular challenge. Being outside in the fresh air can also be an excellent stress-reliever, as well as provide additional mental health benefits.

Indoor walking provides a more controlled environment with consistent temperature and surface conditions, making it easier to establish a routine and maintain a consistent pace. This can be a great option for beginners to start with a walking workout or people who are looking to track their progress. Indoor walking can also be done regardless of the weather outside or time of day.

Depending on your personal preferences and goals, both forms of exercise are a great addition to a healthy lifestyle. Chat with the team at EverFlex for further guidance on how you can best benefit from a personalized exercise routine.

A group of runners celebrating the completion of a long run by giving each other high fives

Chat with a Personal Trainer

If you’re considering adding walking or biking to your fitness routine, the team at EverFlex is here to help. Our personal trainers can tailor a program specifically for you, your goals, and your fitness level.

Contact us for personalized programs, personal training, accountability coaching, and more. Don’t know where to start? Give us a call today!

Mike Hamlin

Personal Trainer

Mike Hamlin

Mike has been in the training industry since 2008 and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. His personal training philosophy is anchored in developing an effective mindset: Once you have a solid mental foundation to commit to fitness, you can achieve greater fitness goals.

More posts from Mike Hamlin


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