Spinning: An Alternative to Running

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

After 35+ years of running, I have had to cut my running back due to multiple injuries and arthritis that I have sustained recently. I must admit, I have always used running as a way to control my weight and also control my stress levels. I used to say the first 30 minutes is for my body and the next 30 minutes is for my mind.  While I like cycling outdoors, it takes twice as long to burn the same amount of calories that running does – or so I thought.  Cycling outdoors is just not safe these days, plus the cold weather is not my idea of great cycling weather.  But fortunately, I have found a way of exercising that burns almost as many calories for the same amount of time of running – Spinning.  I have to admit, before I found out how many calories one burns during indoor spinning classes, I was more stressed out about my inability to run due my recovery from my in injury.  (See Table 1.  Calories Burned Per Minute of Spinning at Various Weights in Pounds).


The typical spinning class lasts about 45 to 60 minutes.  Each class has an instructor who continuously changes the intensity of the spinning.  The class is choreographed to motivational music.  The class starts out slow to warm your muscles up, then you will climb hills, race down the hills, do sprints, or you can do whatever you want.    I always wear my heart rate monitor so I can determine how hard I am working on the bike.  I sweat intensely during these classes.


Spinning at Home

When I can’t get to spinning class, I spin at home. Several years ago, my husband bought me a new stationary bike from Scheller’s Fitness & Cyling.  It’s called a Cycle Ops Pro 300PT.  This stationary bike comes equipped with all the bells and whistles.  It records distance, cadence, heart rate and for the techno minded people you can even plug all the data into the computer to track your progress.  I must admit, the spinning classes provide me with an environment that makes me work harder whereas when I am at home I don’t feel that I get the intense workout that I get in the group setting.


Table 1.  Calories Burned Per Minute of Spinning at Various Weights in Pounds (#)


Activity                    110#                130#                150#                170#                190#



Moderate                    9                      10.7                 12.4                 14.1                 15.7

Vigorous                     10.8                 12.7                 14.8                 16.7                 18.7



Running on flat surface

11 min/mile                   6.8                   7.9                   9.2                   10.5                 11.7

9 min/mile                    9.7                   11.4                 13.1                 14.9                 16.6

7 min/mile                    12.2                 13.9                 15.6                 17.4                 19.1

6 min/mile                    13.9                 16.9                 19.7                 22.2                 24.9


*From: www.self.com/health/activity/calculation/spinning


Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHEALTHWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 11 grandchildren.    




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