Knee Pain From Running? No problem!
As popular as running is, you don’t need to be a world class marathon runner to get in shape. Many people forget the fact that running is a sport and is only chosen as the “best weight loss method” because of its convenience. Just because you can’t run, or don’t like to, doesn’t mean you can’t get lean. Case in point: aerobic exercises like running are very specific. This means that if you take a great cyclist and throw them on the track for a run they may not do so well. This is why tri-athletes spend so many hours a week training – they need to get good at each discipline. All that time running will get you good at, well, running and pretty much nothing else. Lastly, an overload of running can take away from other benefits of exercise. A high volume of endurance training has been shown to reduce your ability to produce power, which has been shown in endurance athletes with the vertical jump of a pre-schooler (1).
There are other modalities of fitness if you despise running. Research studies have shown that cycling protocols can promote fat loss. One study used overweight individuals had the subjects perform sprints on an exercise bike. The subjects worked hard for several seconds and then rested; they did this until the workout was complete. The workout only took 20 minutes, and after 12 weeks, the subjects had lost an average of 5 pounds of fat mass (2). They only did an hour of exercise a week!
Another study compared the same exact protocol to aerobic exercise. One group performed the sprints mentioned above while another group performed 40 minutes of jogging for 4 days a week. So researchers actually had cyclists go head to head with runners to see who could lose more weight. At the end of 16 weeks, the interval group (those on a cycle) had a significant reduction in abdominal fat while the aerobic group had no change in their weight (3). To summarize: the runners did significantly more work, and spent more time exercising than the cycling group, but had fewer results. If you take anything away from this article, understand that not all exercise is created equal.
So there you go – two studies that show you can use an exercise bike, get a great workout, and get in shape. No running needed!
1. Bachechle, Thomas R and Earle, Roger W. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics. 2000, pp 437
2. Heydari, M., Freud, J., et al. “The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males.” Journal of Obesity (2012) 10.1155/2012/480467
3. Irvin, BA., Davis, CK., et al. “Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (2008).40;11:1863-1872.