When people think of cardio, running is normally what comes to mind. However, cycling has a lot of benefits that running lacks. For many people cycling can be a much more beneficial form of cardiovascular exercise. Here are five ways in which cycling can be better than running:

#1: Leg and core strength

When you pedal a bicycle, you work muscles in your legs and core differently than while running. Muscles that are targeted while bicycling include quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, back, and abs. Running works some of these muscles as well, but does not provide as much resistance as cycling does.

#2: Increased bone density

This next benefit goes hand and hand with muscle strength. During cycling, your muscles are worked while pushing the pedals and keeping the bike steady. As the muscles contract, they pull on the bones that they are attached to. The force exerted on the bones helps to improve bone strength and bone density. This is essential to remaining healthy and preventing conditions such as osteoporosis later in life.

#3: Low impact cardio alternative

Running can be very stressful on the body. For people who suffer from joint pain and stiffness during or after running, cycling can be a great, gentler alternative. When sitting on a bike you put your weight on a pair of bones in your pelvis. This allows you to keep your weight off of your joints while still working the muscles in your legs by pedaling.

#4: Improves balance and coordination

Balance is a big part of riding a bike. As you gain practice keeping the bike upright and under control, your balance improves. Considering that balance tends to deteriorate with age, cycling can be a great way to prevent your coordination from declining.

#5: Environmentally friendly

The final reason why cycling can be better than running is that it is very environmentally friendly. Unless you are a super athlete, odds are that you can’t consistently run to work or wherever you need to go during your day. Cycling can be a great, green transportation option, assuming that you don’t need to travel too far for your daily errands. Cycling is a habit that can not only be great for your health, but great for the health of the planet as well.

Safety and other considerations

As with any form of exercise, be sure to go about your cycling in a safe manner. Follow all traffic laws and be aware of automobiles and pedestrians around you while cycling. Be careful to check weather conditions and air quality prior to cycling to ensure a safe and healthy ride. Additionally, be sure to wear sunscreen and avoid loose fitting clothing that might get caught in the bike chains. If you have a health condition that could be exacerbated by cycling, clear the activity with your doctor before starting.