First off, let's agree that any exercise is good, whether inside or outside. It all burns calories, works your muscles, and gives you a mood-lifting boost of endorphins.
According to the NHS people who exercise regularly have a significantly reduced incidence of cancer, coronary heart disease, osteoarthritis and depression, to name but a few - so for Pete's sake, do something. The NHS recommends between 75 to 150 minutes of exercise a week, and cycling is a great way to get those minutes in. Whether you're just getting in to fitness or looking for a way to top up your usual fitness regime.
In fact the NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity OR 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise OR a mix of the two. Yes you've guessed it, cycling can fulfil both of these requirements: a gentle cycle along a flat cycle path would be moderate, and a hardcore hill ride would be vigorous.
Cycling is probably the better option if you are, how can we put this?... of a certain age. And as a low-impact exercise it is perfect for people with joint injuries.
1-0 to cycling. Boom!
*N.B: Anyone with a knee injury should seek medical advice before purchasing a Boardman bike and hitting the track
A varied work out?
With a plethora of options including free weights, machines and classes, there's something for everyone at the gym - that's kind of their thing.
But cycling isn't just about your commute to work. It's easy to mix up your cycling if you're willing to make the effort, and gain a range of fitness benefits. Long steady miles on the road bike are great for fat burning; whereas intense time trials are brilliant for a cardiovascular workout; and technical descents on a mountain bike will work your arms, legs and core, improving your balance and focus.
But we have to concede that the gym offers more obvious and accessible variety. 1-1
Outside vs Inside
What about the benefits of exercising outside rather than inside? Studies show that those exercising outdoors feel a greater reduction in stress and tension compared to those exercising indoors. It's also proven to have a positive effect on mental health as well as physical.
The fact is that outdoor exercise promotes working physically harder. When you ride outside, you'll work harder than if you were on a tread mill, because you have a destination.
Pretty sure that's another one for Cycling. 2-1
What's that? What about when the weather is really crap?
And there's Cost. Don't get me started!
Gyms will, on the whole, make you sign up for a long term contract. Often hard to get out of and regularly increased. If we call a middle of the road gym membership £45 per month - that is £540 for the year, whether you go or not! The January rush gym rush is real, but all too often the good intentions tail off as the gym gets busy and you can't get on the cross trainer at lunch... again.
On average, people spend about £700 getting a bike, helmet, lights, lock and the essential ride kit. That may seem like a big chunk of cash in one go, but you have it for life. And remember, you can get the kit through the Government's Cycle to Work Scheme. You pay that off in smaller monthly chunks of around £35.
So depending on the bike and kit you go for, maybe we have a draw here: 3-2
We're all time poor right? Well here is where the bike really rolls up it's sleeves and pokes the gym in the eye. You have to GO to the gym. On a bicycle, wherever you go you're working out!
Going to that shop you love to buy a new jumper? jump on yer bike. Meeting friends for lunch? jump on yer bike. Going home? Jump on yer bike. And even: going to the gym? yep, jump on yer bike and double up the exercise!
Final Score then: 4-2
It's fair to say that there are definite benefits to both, but by at Dry Patch we reckon you should jump on your 2 wheeled steed and cycle yourself fit in 2018.