Running vs. Swimming vs. Cycling: Which Is Best for Burning Fat?

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The trinity of cycling, running and swimming is one that represents one of the purest ways of fitness throughout history. Triathlons are often celebrated as events that can appreciate the endurance and will of each contestant that are dedicated enough to attend. Many people may argue placing these three sports against each other, wondering which one is the most effective for losing weight, building stamina and is overall worth the commitment. Today, we will be determining which of the three (running, cycling, and swimming) is best for burning fat and improving daily living.

How to Burn Fat by Running

Let’s start with running: the best sport out of the three that requires the least amount of spending and preparation type. Running is by far the most approachable for those newer to exercising. It can be done outdoors and indoors, it can be done with friends and it can be done without any setup.

Many people may find running to be the simplest of the three exercises, but does its job by providing massive amounts of fat loss and even helps with leaning out your muscles. Despite being the most popular out of the three, surveys have indicated that running loses out to strength training and walking in terms of long-term fitness habits people tend to commit to.

In terms of its capacity to burn fat, it solely depends on your distances against the speed at which you are running. A light 10-minute job will probably not do the trick for you, but passing the 45-minute threshold will be when your body starts tapping into its fat reserves to burn as you begin to metabolise.

Running is a constant exercise that needs to be done and is the prime representation of fitness and endurance. It is a common exercise for a good reason and is incredibly dependable when you’re short of time or need to commit to a weight-loss programme for that summer body in the near future. Naturally, dieting takes priority, but committing beyond half an hour at a steady pace during each run will make a world of difference to your body.

How to Lose Weight by Cycling or Bike Riding

Unlike running, cycling is seen more as a hobby than a fitness routine to many. Off-road and on-road biking can have either united or separated communities and the range of bicycles is in abundance. Ever since the pandemic surfaced, many more are riding due to the sheer convenience a bicycle can offer, even without being part of the cycling community.

Although it leans towards being specialised, the passion for riding comes from its versatility as a sport, the plethora of equipment, and the skills required to master riding.

Hand-eye coordination is key to knowing how to ride a bicycle, and knowing how to handle your vehicle on different terrain, and in different climate conditions does help riders to cultivate skills that transcend a mere cardio workout plan. In terms of accessing this sport as a viable fat-burning activity, cycling can be a mix of low impact and high impact, which is phenomenal for those who suffer from stressed joints.

As cycling burns fewer calories than running at the same distance, you’ll have to cycle further to get the same amount of calories burnt. Which means that you’ll have to take out a larger portion of your time to burn the number of calories of your choosing? This doesn’t necessarily mean that cycling is worse than running, but you will require going the distance to get the same results. With resistance in the pedals and terrain to consider, there are variables that prove to be exceptions.

How to Maximize Fat Burning while Swimming?

Unlike running and cycling, swimming is a full-body workout that does a lot more for the body than just burning fat. The natural resistance of water allows each stroke to give the body some sort of muscle training. With your core holding you in place, it is your legs and arms that will be doing all the moving, making this exercise possibly the most well-balanced out of the three, but does it burn fat just as effectively?

Swimming has multiple strokes and some of them are low intensity that does not put mobility as a priority; while other strokes are far more intense and will require proper breathing, detailed movement, and practice in order to get the hang of it.

Like cycling, swimming can be both low intensity and high intensity, but you will want to stick to the latter for proper fat loss. Fast lap-free strokes and breaststrokes are the best for burning fat, documented to burn 590 calories per hour if under 60kg.

One factor that could deter many from committing to swimming as a hobby is having access to a proper swimming pool for this kind of training. Apartments and some single houses are completely out of the question, and condominiums may not have the right kind of Swimming pool for training.

Weather also plays a big part: unlike the other two exercises, swimming is unrealistic (outdoors) if it’s too hot or cold outside. Granted, there are indoor complexes, but they aren’t necessarily common. If these drawbacks are not a determent, picking up this hobby will get you far.

Cycling vs. Running vs. Swimming: Which One Is the Best for Weight Loss?

Before coming to a conclusion, it is important to distinguish the terms that fall under the “best” when assessing the criteria.

If we are talking about versatility, running loses to both cycling and swimming due to how versatile the other two are. Swimming gives you a full-body workout, natural resistance, better breathing skills and can be done to relax too. Cycling is also versatile; being a solid solution for those with joint problems, effective at burning calories, and requires very little equipment.

However, if you are considering the “best” to be one that can burn the most amount of calories under a specific time - running and swimming beat cycling.

Cycling naturally requires more distance to get the same kind of impact as a run under half an hour for example. The rules for this may not apply to swimming as variables like strokes and pool sizes can change up the ability to determine how many calories burnt at that point in time. Overall, running is the safest choice for reliable fat burning, if you are tight for time, but all three require hard work and dedication to see proper results.

Ezra Gideon, UNB & Dhaka Courier Correspondent in Singapore.

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