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Is road riding/cycling considered an "aerobic" activity ?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Is road riding/cycling considered an "aerobic" activity ?

Old 12-21-14, 11:05 AM
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CNC2204
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Is road riding/cycling considered an "aerobic" activity ?

Technically ..... and i read that cycling & running burn similar ballpark amounts of calories per hour is this true ?

And my last 50 mile 4 hour ride my buddys Garmin said we burned 3800 calories is this accurate ?

Thanks.
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Old 12-21-14, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by CNC2204 View Post
..... i read that cycling & running burn similar ballpark amounts of calories per hour is this true ?
I've never read anything like that! I have always read that running is a much greater calorie burner... when compared to cycling.

Originally Posted by CNC2204 View Post
And my last 50 mile 4 hour ride my buddys Garmin said we burned 3800 calories is this accurate ?
Calories burned depends on your weight and the speed and terrain cycled. According to the cycling "guesser" [app] I use: My fat butt would only burn about 3500 calories riding at near 16 MPH for 4 hours. And I accept that guesstimation to be high.

Is cycling an aerobic exercise? Yes... yes it is.

The question I ask you... is what difference does the calorie burn make?

Last edited by Dave Cutter; 12-21-14 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 12-21-14, 11:18 AM
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I think that, with cycling, there's a wider range of exertion possible vs running - not on the higher end, but on the lower end; many can and do ride bicycles at a pace that's not much more strenuous than walking.

As far as your burned calories estimate... it's an estimate. Having a HR monitor and power meter will help give you a more accurate estimate, but it's still going to vary from person-to-person based upon exertion and factoring in individual physiology, terrain, etc. For me, and in my surrounding area, 50 miles in 4 hours wouldn't be anywhere near 3800 calories.
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Old 12-21-14, 11:19 AM
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My last 25 mile ride burned 786 calories according to my Garmin with heart rate monitor. Averaged about 17 mph and just under 1.5 hr. Yesterday's 5.3 mi run at about 50 min burned 887 calories. So riding burned about 9 cals/min and running burned about 18 cals/min.

The 3800 cals seems extremely high unless you were going vertical.
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Old 12-21-14, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by CNC2204 View Post
Technically ..... and i read that cycling & running burn similar ballpark amounts of calories per hour is this true ?

And my last 50 mile 4 hour ride my buddys Garmin said we burned 3800 calories is this accurate ?

Thanks.
It depends on how you do it. It can be aerobic if you do it that way. The last 50 miles ride section depends on hills, speed, wind, if you're drafting, your weight, the bike, tire pressure etc. etc. etc. The best way to get a close estimate, is a power meter on the bike. And that still is not precise.
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Old 12-21-14, 11:32 AM
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all those calorie counting apps pay a stiff licensing fee to the patent holders Hostess & Sara Lee. i don't trust them at all, no i do not.

Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 12-21-14 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 12-21-14, 11:39 AM
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It's aerobic and anaerobic, unless you ride easy on your carbon comfort bike with 32c tires, disc brakes and just putt along. Then it's only aerobic.

Let me put a here before anyone has a hissyfit
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Old 12-21-14, 11:45 AM
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Calories is another way of saying watts-hours. Literally. If you put out watts for a time, you are burning calories. And we know your power output is rated to your heart rate. Cycling or running, if your heart rate is similar, so will be the calories you burn over the same amount of time. As WhyFi suggests, the notion that running burns more calories is predicated on the tendency of some folks to cycle very casually. At the same fitness level, any activities that stress the heart the same will cause the same number of calories to be burned. So it is not how far you run and cycle, it is how hard for how long.
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Old 12-21-14, 11:47 AM
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Cycling is aerobic but you have to keep spinning. It is possible to ride around and not work up too much of an effort. Calories are really hard to estimate on a bike but vary from maybe 20-35 calories per mile depending on conditions and speed. My Garmin forerunner way over estimates my calorie expenditure compared to Strava. I actually thing according to my weight ( 175) that Strava may underestimate my calorie used. Yesterdays Strava had my calories at 1279 used for 46 miles at 17 mph. It was not hilly I live in flats but rolling, and very cold 28 degrees ( no wind really) and I was pushing hard up slight inclines to generate heat to stay warm. I was out of 2:43 and I think I burned more calories than what it said. Had in been summer weather and I averaged 19-20mph it would have gave me more for sure and that to me would have been and easier ride. I also think Strava overestimates by calories running saying I burn 158 per mile running. Most charts say at my weight running is maybe 110-120 per mile used. Garmin seems to have my running calories correct in burning.
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Old 12-21-14, 12:18 PM
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Cycling is an aerobic activity that burns calories. Unfortunately there is no direct way to measure this.

KJ's of work completed can be a reasonable 1:1 approximation of calories burned. KJ (work) can be quantified with a power meter.

On one side, the calorie to joule ratio is ~1:4, so there are four joules per calorie. On the flip side, the body is only about ~25% or so efficient in producing exercise related work, losing the other 75% of energy produced as heat. These effects tend to cancel each other out, and the net effect is that KJ's of work done is similar to calories burned during aerobic exercise.
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Old 12-21-14, 12:33 PM
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One thing to remember, aerobic is generally measured in oxygen uptake capacity (or something similar) not necessarily in calories burned. Years ago, some group/study had cycling as the 2nd highest aerobic activity (n average) next to XC skiing, which was #1 .
It was also considered one of the best 'weight maintenance activities, running being better fro weight loss
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Old 12-21-14, 12:35 PM
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I ride with a Triathlete, we've done a 50 mile ride last 3 sundays but he just rides on wknds.

Im a full time cyclist and put on 100 miles a week running around.

Our last 50 mile ride was 4 hours, he has a heart monitor and our average was 14 to 16 mph.

he doesnt like to stop and if i do stop i have to double time 15 minutes to catch him.

The 50 mile rides have caught up with me and im taking today off cept for the normal 15 to 20 daily stuff.

I just ride for fun and fitness.
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Old 12-21-14, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by CNC2204 View Post

he doesnt like to stop and if i do stop i have to double time 15 minutes to catch him.
Sorry but you need to find another riding partner. That's just BS.
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Old 12-21-14, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
Sorry but you need to find another riding partner. That's just BS.
To be fair we carry phones and he has turned around before but he doesnt like to stop as a whole because of his schedule.

I know if i do stop and he doesnt its hard to catch up.

Hes a good man.
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Old 12-22-14, 05:23 AM
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I'm going to guess your caloric burn at 400-500/ hour. Don't eat too much.
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Old 12-22-14, 07:16 AM
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I can get just as hard of a workout cycling as I can running. Most rides involve dripping sweat and hard breathing for me. You can make a ride as easy or as hard as you want. However, I never believe those calorie burn things. I suspect that they are all based on the metabolism of 16 year old boys. I take any numbers they generate and cut them in half.
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Old 12-22-14, 07:41 AM
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On recovery rides, I'll use just my Garmin. On the road bike, training, I ride with a power tap. The Garmin alone overestimates Caloric expenditure by "a lot." The post by @pdedes is pretty accurate as it turns out: average body will burn around 400-600 Calories per hour at a decent pace. Of course, this is an estimate. I can burn ~1000 Cal in hour hour on a threshold climbing workout.
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Old 12-22-14, 07:47 AM
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Any continuous physical activity lasting longer than two minutes is "aerobic" in that it relies on the oxidative (aerobic) energy system to produce the ATP that powers the muscle contractions.

Calories burned is directly proportional to power produced times duration. A 15 MPH average in the flats is about 100W (for the rider pulling, less if you're on someone's wheel). At 3.6 kJ per Watt hour That's 360 kJ per hour. kJ produced is roughly equal to calories burned. So in four hours that would be 1440 kcal. If your ride has lots of climbing, then average power (and calories) would be higher. But to hit that 3800 kcal number, you'd have to be averaging over 260W for the whole four hour ride. That means an FTP north of 325W. Not impossible but that's pro territory.
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Old 12-22-14, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by CNC2204 View Post
Our last 50 mile ride was 4 hours, he has a heart monitor and our average was 14 to 16 mph.
Sorry but that math doesn't add up. 50 miles in four hours equals 12.5 MPH avg. At that pace there's no way you'd burn 3800 calories unless you're extremely overweight.
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Old 12-22-14, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
Sorry but that math doesn't add up. 50 miles in four hours equals 12.5 MPH avg. At that pace there's no way you'd burn 3800 calories unless you're extremely overweight.
that may be the total time include rest times.
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Old 12-22-14, 08:31 AM
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Last year i had 300 miles total riding trails on my modified TREK 820, it was my only bike.

This year i had 4 bikes, 2 road, a hybrid & mountain.

I sold my TREK 1000 when i bought the TARMAC which has almost 1000 miles in 6 weeks of winter weather.

This year i have over 3K miles on all bikes.

Im getting fatigued due to the cold weather and prolly need to take a week off but im a fulltime cyclist.

Im a big muscular guy that rides for fun & fitness.

If they have weight classes for racing based on your size i may do that.

Otherwise the 160-170 pound rider is much faster uphill than i am.

But i pass you on the downhill .... its a vicious cycle ...
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Old 12-22-14, 08:34 AM
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Cycling is very aerobic. If it gets your heart rate up and keeps it up for a sustained amount of time, its aerobic. Cycling can be very good at that. As for accuracy of calorie calculations, its hard to say. I get dramatically lower numbers from my Garmin when I use a heart rate monitor. Logically that should be much more accurate when the computer know how hard you are actually working. I'm sure I burn fewer calories now on the same rides than I did when I was first starting and more out of shape.
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Old 12-22-14, 08:36 AM
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I read running a mile and walking a mile burn the same # of calories (walking just takes longer).

I can ride a bike for several hours, even at a high personal performance level, however, I can not run for more than 30 minutes at any sustained speed.
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Old 12-22-14, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
I read running a mile and walking a mile burn the same # of calories (walking just takes longer).
I read something similar too - actually at a slow to moderate rate, you burn the most calories per mile if I remember right. IMO, its better to think of calories per minute than per mile though.
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Old 12-22-14, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
I read running a mile and walking a mile burn the same # of calories (walking just takes longer).
Originally Posted by pallen View Post
I read something similar too - actually at a slow to moderate rate, you burn the most calories per mile if I remember right.
According to this Runner's World article: How Many Calories Are You Really Burning? | Runner's World, scientific studies disagree with this.
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