Is Mountain Biking Better Than Running? Everything You Need To Know

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Is mountain biking better than running?

If you were to ask me this question at a dinner table, I would most probably say, “no doubt about it,” because that is how much I love the sport.

Personally, I prefer mountain biking to running.

But here, it is my onus to give you factual information rather than my personal opinion.

So, scientifically speaking, is mountain biking really better than running?

Here are my findings from the extensive research on mountain biking vs. running.

3 Shared Benefits of Mountain Biking And Running

1: Promotes Cardiovascular Health

Is Mountain Biking Better Than Running For Cardiovascular Health
Good Cardiovascular Health

Both mountain biking and running help in improving heart health.

Since both activities require more oxygen intake, the blood vessels are improved, dilated, and clear.

2: Prevents Hypertension

Is mountain biking better than running to prevent hypertension
Preventing Hypertension

Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, occurs “when the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.”

Several studies have shown that cycling and running can help prevent hypertension and thereby contribute to better health.

3: Helps Burn Calories

Benefits of mountain biking and running
Running vs. Mountain Biking

Both mountain biking and running can help burn a significant amount of calories.

While running outweighs mountain biking in burning calories, the former is a high-impact form of exercise, which may also take a toll on your endurance.

Mountain biking is an easier way to burn more calories than running.

12 Reasons Why Is Mountain Biking Better Than Running

I stick with my opinion that mountain biking is better than running.

Below I share 12 reasons why I favor mountain biking more than running.

1: Low Impact Nature

Both running and mountain biking offers cardiovascular benefits.

However, running is considered to be a high-impact activity that could cause injuries and damage to muscles, leading to inflammation, soreness, and other problems.

On the other hand, mountain biking is a low-impact exercise that is great for your heart and puts less stress on your body.

2: Cover More Miles

Typically, the distance that one can bike is more than what one can cover running.

Especially for most people with a heavier body, it becomes difficult to climb up the mountains and keep up the speed.

Thanks to scientific advancements, it is much easier to pedal up the mountains or ride several miles without being pulled back by the effects of gravity.

3: Better Experience With Nature

This is one significant reason why I personally prefer to answer the question “is mountain biking better than running” with a yes.

You get to see a lot more places and enjoy the places you are riding, as you would be less tired and can focus on the sceneries better than you would have while running.

The extra miles that you could cover also give you the opportunity to explore more places.

And when I checked with other mountain bikers, they agreed with me cent percentage on this.

4: Boost Hunger Hormones

Earlier, it was believed that running helped in suppressing the hunger hormones better than cycling.

But according to, British researchers have found out that both cycling and running equally help in stopping the hunger hormones.

So, hunger hormones should no longer be the reason why you would choose running over mountain biking.

5: Coasting For Energy-Saving

Coasting is a good option when you want to save energy while mountain biking.

However, this option is not available when you are running; and all you can do is to stand if you want to save energy.

Coasting is not always recommended by riders for timed rides.

However, you can definitely choose how to use your energy when you are on a leisure ride and are not really concerned about the downside of using energy-efficient techniques while riding your mountain bike.

6: Stronger Arms

Mountain biking gives you more muscular arms.

While running helps in developing several muscles, your arms can achieve their best strength with ardent mountain biking.

7: Mood Enhancer

Thanks to noradrenaline hormones released during mountain biking, the activity is capable of notably improving your mood.

While both running and biking can make you feel good, the nature of mountain biking can give you much more satisfaction and joy.

8: Better Brains

Cycling is considered to help build new cells in the hippocampus.

With this information, we can imagine the kind of boost that mountain biking, in particular, could give our brains.

9: Develop Better Reflexes

Mountain biking is more about responding to situations as quickly as possible.

Therefore, you can train yourself immensely to develop better reflexes, which could help in making your life easier in general.

10: Develop Positive Attitude

As you tackle the challenges and soar ahead in mountain biking, you will see yourself become a better person with a more positive attitude toward challenges in life.

A can-do attitude is hard to achieve, and mountain biking is a great pathway to enhance your willpower.

When you practice mountain biking, you know there’s a way out of every problem.

The quick-thinking ability will also help you make faster decisions, which is the characteristic trait of many successful human beings.

11: Toughens Shin Muscles

When you are riding in the saddle, the shin muscles play an integral role in pulling up the pedal while performing an upstroke.

Especially while climbing steep hills with your mountain bike, your foot must stay fixed on the pedals, horizontal to the ground, to engage the tibialis anterior.

Mountain biking will help strengthen the muscle, which can be highly beneficial in preventing shin splints while running.

12: Helps Develop Endurance

The aerobic benefits of mountain biking are immense, all without any significant impact present on the body.

An advantage of mountain biking over running is that bikes have gears that can be adjusted while moving up a hill.

Mountain biking helps one develop and improve endurance and hence, one can aid in becoming a better runner.

2 Reasons Why Mountain Biking Is Good For Runners

While one may get immersed in the debate about mountain biking vs. running, we often forget two important aspects about how mountain biking can even benefit runners.

Below listed are two ways of how mountain biking benefits the runners.

1: Mountain Biking Helps Strengthen Calf Muscles

Mountain Bike Pedaling
Improved Calf Muscles

Calf muscles do a lot of work while running, more so while performing mid-food strikes.

Since the feet’s balls are positioned at the middle of the pedal, there is a similarity in the contact point of a mountain biker’s feet on the pedals with that of the runner’s feet on the road.

Especially while pedaling in a standing position, there is a lot of stress on the deep calf muscles.

So, if you are to choose other exercises to get better at running, then mountain biking can help you improve your calf muscles.

2: Mountain Biking Helps Enhance Core Engagement

Better Core Engagement By Mountain Biking
Better Core Engagement

There is no debate over the fact that runners must have a strong core.

Mountain biking is an excellent activity that engages your core and improves it. However, it is essential to pay attention to your biking form for better results.

Whether you are riding in or out of the saddle, you must make sure that the core is rightly engaged.

Are you wondering how you would know if you are properly engaging your core while mountain biking? Here are a couple of tips.

If the core is not engaged in a seated position, you may tend to tilt and rotate the upper body while climbing uphill. With your core engaged, there would be very little movement in the upper part of the body.

When riding away from the saddle, if you are keeping the bike in a vertical position and allowing the body and the hips to move up and above the bike, there are vague chances that your core is engaged.

However, the right way to do it is to tilt the bike side to side while you sustain a stable and erect torso position.

This form of biking will give room for engaging the core to tilt the bike sideways and to maintain the stable body position.

5 Common FAQs On Mountain Biking Vs. Running

1: Is Mountain Biking Better For Cardio or Strength?

Mountain biking is an excellent form of cardio workout.

It not only helps in burning around 400 calories per hour, but it also helps strengthen the lower body– hips, legs (quads and hamstrings), and glutes, as well as the upper body.

Mountain biking can be pursued if you are looking for a workout that doesn’t cause havoc on your ankles, knees, hips, and back.

The upper body and core would also get into action since a mountain bike rider travels mostly on hills and rugged surfaces.

Therefore, you get a full-body workout while performing a mountain bike ride.

This effect may not be achieved with running, where you don’t engage the core or the upper body so much.

Just make sure that you go easy on yourself if you are new to mountain biking.

Do not indulge in adventurous rides and advanced mountain biking techniques prior to gaining experience as a rider.

2: What Is The Intensity Level of Mountain Biking?

Similar to running, mountain biking is also a high-intensity workout that can get your heart rate higher.

But unlike running, mountain biking is a great way to reduce your waistline without putting a lot of strain on your joints.

3: Does Mountain Biking Focus More On Flexibility Than Running?

Mountain biking does not put much emphasis on flexibility compared to running.

4: Is Mountain Biking More Expensive Than Running?

Yes, Mountain biking is definitely more expensive than running.

However, it is worth every penny that you invest in buying a mountain bike and other gear that are essential to get you started.

The other necessary equipment include a helmet, sunglasses, hydration pack, mountain biking clothes, shoes compatible with your pedals, gloves, knee pads, and the like.

While you also need to invest in shoes for running, accessories for running and the overall expenses are typically lesser when compared to mountain biking.

5: Why Is Mountain Biking Low-Impact When Compared To Running?

Unlike running, mountain biking does not put much stress on your joints.

Hence the chances of muscular soreness, inflammation, and injuries are meager.


I hope through this post I have answered your question and now you have a better clarity on why is mountain biking better than running.

I would like to know your opinion on this topic. Kindly comment below.

P.S. If you enjoyed reading this post, you should also check out our resource on how to get started with mountain biking.

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Team Biking KnowHow

Rohan runs Biking KnowHow along with his team. Rohan has been a mountain biker since 2005. His mission is to simplify mountain biking for everyone. All Biking KnowHow content piece is thoroughly fact-checked. Our content is backed up with leading research and inputs from expert cyclists.