Walking vs cycling

Hi everyone,

Exercise is a trigger for me, as it is for many Mavers. What is interesting is that walking at a gentle pace causes more face pain, tinnitus and dizziness than more strenuous exertion on a bike, a cross-trainer or doing heavy weights. It will take 30 mins of walking until the pain begins which suggests my brain can cope for a short time.

It’s perhaps due to the tiny imperceptible vibrations of each step which my brain cannot handle - maybe a miss-match with what my eyes are feeding the brain? anyone else have a similar experience? Can anyone think what is going on here?

I’m still not convinced whether migraine causes the dizziness or an ear problem causes dizziness and in turn migraine.


Same for me, and I was wondering the same thing. Walking/hiking for 30+ minutes will generate symptoms, but a 45-60 minute run won’t do anything. Mountain biking no issues either, but a long road cycle will generate symptoms for sure.

And the combo of running + a cold shower at the end of my run works wonders for me.

Walking is supposed to be much tougher on the vestibular system, as your brain performs a push-pull analysis as you switch balance from leg to leg. There are probably subtle head movements too that you are not aware of.


More here:


The increase of symptoms is likely to be an increase in the brain stress (‘allostatic load’) when challenged like this.

Bike riding doesn’t present this side to side swinging - you are more stable, so is probably much easier on the brain.

I found it annoying that my vestibular symptoms would disappear on a bicycle, only to return (with great disappointment) when I got off. Bike rides made for a great escape though!

You are advised to walk as much as possible to optimise compensation. I used to do 2-3 hour walks daily. Walking amongst nature has been discussed a lot on this site as a great psychological help too to combat anxiety and depression.


I tried biking a week ago for the first time in a few years. Just an afternoon in the city on a road bike. Every time we stopped and locked up the bikes it was like my head was still moving forwards, my brain was still feeling the motion. It was so difficult. I’ll have to gather my nerve to try mountain biking. :sweat_smile: For me, even when walking is challenging, I know if I press on, after 20 min or so my symptoms will likely ease up. With a run, the symptoms lighten much faster. I miss running in a group where other people can do all the looking for traffic and associated head movements.

That’s because it was. Another strong indicator of a struggling vestibular system. Happens when the car stops and I have had it every time I stop walking too.

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Ah, the Million Dollar question emerges yet again. Always interesting but really the subject of another thread. I’m a long termer like you and only last week I re-read an old report from a neuro-otologist I saw 5 years ago which seems to suggest mine might have had peripheral origins.

Thanks for all the replies. I’ll do some experiments to see how I get on. Perhaps I can walk it off if I keep going!

Since the covid 19 restrictions I do less walking (although more weigh training as I can do that at home). Perhaps by brain needs more frequent walks, as it had before the social distancing, to build up a tolerance.

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You know where I feel best, weirdly, kayaking.


Yeah, that sounds like a real bum activity around your countryside :wink: :evergreen_tree: :evergreen_tree: :rowing_woman:

(doesn’t sound weird at all, btw, makes complete sense :slight_smile: ).

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Yesterday. Mercer Slough off of Lake Washington.



Oh that’s funny. If timing is anything to go by you were discovering the above link just about the same time I was reading an article in DM ‘You’ magazine by Julia Bradbury, U.K. TV presenter and modern-day Wainwright, about the benefits of walking. Julia Bradbury who incidentally suffers from endometriosis and from her thirties considered by medics to be infertile, then managed to produce a son post 40 and two daughters since, had always found walking very therapeutic for her mental health having been first introduced to it very young by her father.

A short quotation from the article I read:

‘… Sitting on a cycle’s razor-blade seat, getting chafed all the way to Lands End and back, is not my cuppa, so I’ll stick to walking, thanks. Here’s why. To live happy, healthy lives we need a few basic things, movement, walking, nature, sleep and food’


I took up cycling again in the first lockdown for exercise and loved it enough to buy myself a new road/racing bike.
I don’t feel I would be safe on a bike, unless it was a static one, because of all the head movements involved when turning, pulling out etc.
I like walking on long straight stretches with few obstacles (i.e. other people!)
I have difficulty crossing busy roads because of the 'look left look right" thing combined with then stepping off the kerb and hurrying across and stepping up the kerb the other side.

Cycling is a lot easier than walking for a lot of MAVers. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it :slight_smile:

I seem to recall someone saying the same thing about skiing(!) on here.

My vestibular symptoms disappeared on a bike. Only to come back when I got off.

This was much later though when migraines were under control.

I intend to when the weather improves as I love it so much.
We have a lovely wide cycle path alongside our ring road near me so that’s ideal to test me out on!
I used to cycle everywhere from 12 years to about 30 years old, including holidays, and had forgotten the amazing sense of freedom I feel on a bike :slight_smile:

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Is the very essence of the condition. When/if you can get rid of that you will know you are better. Lots of threads on head movement etc if you Search.

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Ohhh I hated moving my head! Such an awful feeling. That is much better for me at the moment.

I say do it. Can you turn more slowly? Will you ride on a busy road? Would be good VRT in any case.

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