If you walk into any fitness club in the world, you will always see some kind of exercise bike section, or group spin classes. These classes have exploded in popularity in the last few years because using an exercise bike works. This is one of the best ways to get fit, and it’s a form of exercise that everyone can do. Whether you want to do a high-intensity Soul Cycle type workout, or go for a longer period at a steady state—cycling is an ideal way to get fit.
If you are looking at improving your health and fitness, or losing weight, an exercise bike presents the best option out there. They are more affordable than other types of exercise equipment, don’t take up a lot of room, and are easy to use.
This article will look at the benefits of using an exercise bike, what different types are available, and if they are the best option to help you achieve your goals.
Exercise Bike Benefits
- Knee and Joint Protection – this is the biggest appeal of the exercise bike right off the bat. Running, and upright exercise can be great, but there is a constant impact of the joints and knees. This can lead to problems over the long term that can prevent you from exercise. Cycling eliminates this high impact allowing your exercise periods to last longer without fear of injury. It’s the ideal choice for those with these issues or arthritis.
- Improved V02 Max– Cyclists are some of the fittest athletes on earth. Their ability to better utilize oxygen is on another level. This oxygen utilization is your V02 max, and it’s a great indicator of fitness. There are studies that show how cycling is one of the best ways to improve this.
- Improved cardiovascular fitness – cycling is one of the ultimate ways to boost your heart and lung health. Since you are in a supported position, the activity of pedaling directly engages your cardiovascular system. Your body doesn’t have to be supported and propelled like it would during upright exercise and the exercise bike fully engages the heart and lungs. The research shows how indoor cycling is an ideal way to improve aerobic health.
- Body fat loss – cycling is a great calories burner, and this can lead to body fat reduction. Research from Australia shows that a half hour bike ride each day can potentially help you lose nearly 5 kg of fat over the course of a year.
How Long Should You Ride a Stationary Bike to Lose Weight?
If you’re just getting started with exercise and wanting to lose some weight, you’ll want to ride a stationary bike at least 20-30 minutes a day. The sweet spot for overall health, and gradual, sustained weight loss is around 150 minutes per week.
This can be broken up in a few different ways depending on if you want to exercise 3 days a week, 4 days, 5, or even more. It is a good idea, for overall health, and calorie burning, to exercise at least 20 minutes. As you progress in your health journey, you can increase the time spent riding.
If you want to increase weight loss, high intensity interval training is an ideal choice. This is more intense–but requires less time riding. Workouts only need to be anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.
With high-intensity interval training, you increase the resistance and go at a more intense sprint for around 30 seconds. You then lower the intensity and ride for 90 seconds at a recovery period.
This style of exercise burns more calories and engages excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC. EPOC is what causes you to burn calories long after the workout is done. This style of training can be as little as 3-5 rounds, or up to 8-10 which means—with a warmup and cool down—workouts can be as little as ten minutes long.
Types of Exercise Bikes
The three main types of exercise bikes you’ll want to consider are an upright stationary bike, an indoor spinning bike, or a recumbent bike. Each of these comes with their own benefits and specifics.
An upright stationary bike keeps you in a higher seated position and more upright compared to having to lean forward and hunch over the handlebars like a road cyclist would. They are easier on the back and are great for general fitness. They are not as conducive to high-intensity riding but are still great for losing weight and boosting cardiovascular health.
An indoor spinning bike is the type you would see in spin classes or places like Soul Cycle. These replicate the experience of a road bike, but inside your own home. They are also more geared towards high intensity training, including riding up out of the saddle. A spin bike like this is for the serious exerciser, but can still be used by everyone.
A recumbent exercise bike is a type that has a reclined seat. These are larger units but are more beneficial to those with back and joint problems. The reclined position of the seat takes the pressure off the lower back, and the seated pedalling position is easier on the knees. These are also easier to get in and out of and can appeal to seniors or those with mobility issues.
Yes, as long as you are paying attention to your caloric intake and keeping your diet clean. A stationary bike is a great calorie burner as biking allows you to exercise for a longer duration due to its lower intensity and impact level. Whereas you may be limited for how far you can run or jog, you will be able to exercise much longer on a stationary bike. There is also the great calorie burning effect of high-intensity interval training that’s been discussed, and it’s a great way to burn belly fat.
Because of its low impact nature, and less taxing nature, you can use a stationary bike every day. If you are using it for high-intensity training, you will only want to use it 3-4 times a week as this is more taxing on your central nervous system. But for general fitness, a stationary bike is a great way to get exercise each day while still protecting your joints and knees.
A lot of potential muscle size has to do with genetic predisposition, nutrition, and how intense your riding is. High intensity sprints can build more muscle fiber to grow the legs, but the amount of calories used to do this can result in lower body fat levels over all. For lower intensity riding, it’s not necessarily going to make the legs bigger as the intensity may not be high enough to stimulate muscle growth.
It may be, but both are a great source of exercise. The enormous benefit with the stationary bike is the ability to go for a longer duration, and the minimal impact that it has on joints and knees. Walking is a substantial form of exercise but you may be limited because of weather conditions, where with an exercise bike, you can use it any time in the comfort of your own home. The act of cycling is a great way to engage your cardiovascular system as your legs are only engaged in pedaling and not having to support the entire body through the walking motion. It also depends how much you commit to it, and the consistency of your exercise. This is critical in determining results.
Result will be determined by adhering to using a stationary bike, consistency, and intensity of the workouts. If these things are in place, you can notice some changes in as little as two weeks. They may not be drastic, but people new to exercise can make changes pretty early on as their body adapts to the exercise. Everyone is different, so it’s a tougher number to pinpoint, but the average person can see some significant changes in 6-8 weeks of consistent use, and some even bigger changes in 3-4 months.
There’s a reason cyclists are some of the fittest people on earth—it works. The significant thing with an exercise bike is anyone can use them and they are one of the easiest ways to get fit.
There is no special skill you need to learn, and you can hop on and go at any time. There are some great options for exercise bikes depending on your goals and needs, and they are an ideal choice for anyone with any joint or knee injuries, but who can still exercise.
Exercise bikes for the home have also become much more affordable. Many even come with apps to connect you to instructors and cycling classes from all over the world. Even if you are limited for space and budget, you can find an exercise bike to fill your needs and help you reach your goals.