ASU study: Cycling easier on the body than running

  • Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 2:13 p.m.

KANNAPOLIS — New scientific findings give endurance runners a reason to consider varying their training regime to include other sports.

The study, “Immune and Inflammation Responses to a 3-day Period of Intensified Running Versus Cycling,” was conducted by the Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. After a period of intense workouts, long-distance runners experienced more muscle damage, soreness and inflammation than cyclists. The study was published in the journal “Brain, Behavior and Immunity” in September.


“Runners just can’t put in the same volume of exercise as cyclists without experiencing more inflammation, soreness and muscle damage,” said principal investigator David Nieman, director of the Human Performance Laboratory. “Long-distance runners are encouraged to vary their training schedules, mixing higher and lower exercise workloads, and to include other training modalities like swimming or cycling to maintain the highest level of performance.”

In the study, non-smoking 19- to 45-year-old, long-distance runners and cyclists who regularly competed in races worked out for 2.5 hours per day for three days. Blood samples were taken pre-exercise and at one-, 14- and 38-hour intervals after the three days of exercise. The results conclusively showed that runners had greater muscle damage, inflammation and soreness compared to the cyclists.

A decrease in immune system function was similar in both runners and cyclists. The immune findings are in line with Nieman’s previous research published in 2012 in the Journal of Cytokine Research. The study demonstrated that the immune system reflects the physiologic stress experienced by the athlete.

For people who are not trained athletes but are interested in getting in better shape, Nieman recommends they start with cycling. “It is going to be a lot easier on the muscles,” he said.

Notice about comments:

Salisburypost.com is pleased to offer readers the ability to comment on stories. We expect our readers to engage in lively, yet civil discourse. Salisburypost.com cannot promise that readers will not occasionally find offensive or inaccurate comments posted in the comments area. Responsibility for the statements posted lies with the person submitting the comment, not Salisburypost.com. If you find a comment that is objectionable, please click "report abuse" and we will review it for possible removal. Please be reminded, however, that in accordance with our Terms of Use and federal law, we are under no obligation to remove any third party comments posted on our website. Full terms and conditions can be read here.

Do not post the following:

  • Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
  • Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
  • Personal attacks, insults or threats.
  • The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
  • Comments unrelated to the story.