Yoga vs Mountain Biking

When I was in my early 20s I tried doing Bikram Yogo, which is hot yoga. I really enjoyed it and I have done yoga (most Ashtanga or similar) on and off for the past decade. There seems to be this idea that yoga isn’t a legit type of workout because there is so much stretching. I always dismissed these thoughts, because I never had the data to prove it.

Until yesterday, when I did yoga with my Apple Watch tracking my heart rate. I thought I would do a comparison yoga with mountain biking.

Comparing workouts

I don’t understand the full science of workouts. I do have some data and I have used that to complete my own analysis. I know that the higher your heart beats, the more active the workout is. I also know that your heart rate can be broken into different zones and those zone represent the type of workout you are doing (fat burning, aerobic, anerobic). Here are the data points I reviewed for each workout:

  • length
  • average heart rate
  • max heart rate
  • amount spent in each zone
  • active calories

Yoga workout

The yoga workout I chose was yesterday (2016-11-12), however I haven’t done yoga for at least 3 years.

  • length 1h5m
  • average heart rate 133bpm
  • max heart rate 164
  • minimum heart rate 87
  • amount spent in each zone
    • high intensity 0%
    • Anaerobic zone 6%
    • Aerobic zone 22%
    • Energy efficient & recovery zone 31%
    • Resting 24%
  • active calories 621

Mountain bike workout

In the summer I was riding my mountain bike a lot, and the following ride was from July 3, 2016. This was a ride from the Hammerfest bike trails, which there is a big climb and then a long decent.

  • length 1h17m
  • average heart rate 145bpm
  • max heart rate 203
  • minimum heart rate 87
  • amount spent in each zone
    • high intensity 25%
    • Anaerobic zone 6%
    • Aerobic zone 13%
    • Energy efficient & recovery zone 18%
    • Resting 25%
  • active calories 420

With mountain biking, I find it odd that there was very little time in the Anaerobic, but a lot in the high intensity and the aerobic zone. The natural flow of mountain biking is to climb for a while, take a little break then go downhill. There is a lot of start and stop, climbing hills is hard and intense and when you are going downhill, it is hard, but you stay mostly in the aerobic and recovery zone.

Other differences

  • mountain biking is fast, so adrenaline plays a factor, injury is also a lot higher
  • most mountain bike rides are about two hours
  • there is a lot more variety with a mountain bike ride: intense climb up a hill, wait before going down
  • usually have a snack during a mountain bike ride, this contributes to the start and stop nature
  • mountain biking is always outside
  • yoga is much easier to fit into my lifestyle
  • the weather doesn’t impact a yoga session


If burning calories is the most important, doing yoga is probably the best workout. Yoga is also the best if you want to do something inside, or you don’t want to go to the mountain biking trails. Mountain biking is more fun and it gets you outside, but it does have its risk see what happened in June