Workout Wednesday Vol. 11: Does A Bike Commute Count as a Workout?

Q: Is a 30 minute bike commute considered a workout?

A: Yes! Sort of. Actually, it depends what your fitness goals are.

If your goals include exercising a certain number of times a week, general wellness, weight loss, cardiovascular fitness- Yes, the bike commute, even at a leisurely pace, is a workout. Biking is, in fact, my preferred way to get from point A to point B.

For the blessed year or so when Sweet Pea was big enough to go in the Burley and I wasn’t yet hugely pregnant, we biked almost everywhere. And by “we biked” I mean I biked, she chilled in the Burley, and I grew surprisingly strong just from towing a toddler to the gym, the pool, the library, the park and the supermarket.

That said, whether biking is a legit workout depends on your fitness goals.

If you have a specific goal, of completing your first 5k or even running a Boston qualifying time at your next marathon, the bike commute is an efficient way to get some cross training on your calendar. Most training plans call for one or two days of cross training each week. The bike commute is also a great workout when your training calls for active recovery- a workout that that promotes circulation and gets your sore or fatigued muscles moving, but doesn’t create enough stress to interfere with recovery from a hard workout you completed earlier that day or the previous day.

Certainly it’s not going to hurt your fitness to bike to work- if you have the time. If you are choosing the bike commute instead of a run, you may be hurting your run fitness. While the bike is a great tool for cross training, it can never replace actually running. While both running and biking are great cardiovascular workouts, the biomechanics of each sport are different. It sounds stupidly simple because it is; the most effective way to improve your run is to run.

If you are a cyclist or a triathlete, the casual bike commute may be an excellent way to fit in your easier training days. On the other hand, if you are pressed for time and you need to get in a quality training session on the bike, cyclists and triathletes can easily make intervals a part of a commute. In that case, I would just hope there is a shower available when you reach your destination.

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Happy training, and thanks to Dan (my husband) for this week’s question.

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