Do you want to get in better shape and improve your fitness level? Is your time limited and would love to multi-task exercising with something else? You should consider buying an exercise bike.
There are a great number of benefits of using a stationary bike. However, with such a wide variety of fitness machines on the market, you might ask yourself if exercise bikes are good for you or if it’s all just marketing. Granted, plenty of diets and machines have been ousted as useless or downright dangerous, but that’s not the case with indoor bikes. Mimicking the same natural movements of a real bike, these are easy to use, comfortable and can offer great results.
We’ll detail all the things indoor bikes have to offer right below, trying to maintain our critical outlook. To keep an objective stance, we won’t just be speaking about the good parts, we’ll also try to discuss some doubts you might have about getting one.
Below are some of the positives of getting an indoor bike, some of which are quite obvious while others might take you by surprise.
1. Lower Body Toning
Using an exercise bike has a lot of benefits, but the clearest one is that you’ll give your lower body its fair share of toning. Your shins and quads will work the hardest, with all the pushing motions your legs are doing, but your glutes are also targeted thanks to the rotation movements. Your hamstrings work mostly as supportive muscles when your legs are pushing the pedals, giving them a good workout as well.
If you increase the intensity of your workouts, by pedalling faster and/ or by increasing the resistance of the exercise bike, you can get better results. A higher pace and a bigger resistance mean your muscles will have to work harder, thus getting more toned in the process.
2. Allows Upper Body Toning
Your lower body isn’t the only one working out, though. If you’re using hand weights or resistance bands, you can work your upper body muscles as well. However, don’t lift as much as you would for strength training, rather lower your weight and increase the number of reps to make sure you don’t fall down.
Your core will also be challenged more than with the usual pedalling because now you’re not using your hands to support yourself. That means you’re improving your balance, using your core muscles for that, and strengthening them in the process as well. And if you find yourself sore the next day, remember that balanced workouts are arguably better than a hundred crunches, since they work your entire core at the same time.
3. Great for the Joints
Among the benefits of indoor cycling, you can’t forget how good it is for your joints. If you’re new to working out, if you have bone problems, if you’re just recovering from an accident or if you love doing HIIT and strength training, you need to protect your joints.
As you can see, there’s really no situation or fitness level when taking care of your joints doesn’t matter, and you can do that with an exercise bike. The rotation movements are very easy on both your hips, knees, and ankles, but they also contribute to strengthening them. So in the end, you can make your joints stronger by using an exercise bike.
4. Low Impact
There are plenty of reasons why you’d want a low impact workout, such as:
- You’re new to working out.
- Your fitness level isn’t top-notch.
- You’re on an active rest day.
- You’re having a bad day.
- You have thin walls and downstairs neighbours with ears like Little Riding Hood’s wolf-granny.
- You’re pregnant.
- You’re ill.
- You’re recovering from an illness.
- You hate sweating.
And the list can go on. But truth be told, even if you’re into really hard workouts, like High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), you need to give your body the chance to recover. So low impact workouts are recommended for everyone, they can only prove helpful.
5. Healthier Heart
Even if using an exercise bike is a low impact workout, that doesn’t mean it’s not cardio. Therefore, you can actually get all the most important cardiovascular benefits by choosing the right intensity level for you. Upping the pace and the resistance, as well as adding some upper body weights will all increase the level of difficulty as well as how hard your heart is working.
Getting into the right heart zone is essential for making sure you get a healthier heart. As such, not over or underdoing it ensures your heart can pump blood better, in the long run, thus giving this muscle a great workout too. This way, you will reduce the risk of heart attacks and also decrease a higher than normal heart rate.
6. Better Breathing
Having a heart that works better and is healthier means more blood will get to all your organs, including your lungs. That leads to the conclusion that your lung capacity will increase, thus getting more oxygen into your body.
That has miraculous effects all-around, starting with better breathing. So you’ll find yourself doing more work around the house, having more energy, maybe even going on long walks. But breathing better also contributes to the health of every living cell in your body, repairing broken or ill tissues and contributing to the ultimate health of all your organs.
7. Improved Sleep
Do you have problems falling asleep? Do you tend to wake up very early in the mornings without being able to go to sleep again? Or do you mostly wake up tired every time the alarm clock goes off? This might happen for a lot of reasons, like sleep apnea or stress.
Sleep apnea means that your breath stops when you’re sleeping, without you knowing it, so your brain constantly has to get out of the deep sleep state to fix this problem. This problem can be caused both by obesity or lack of exercise, so using an exercise bike benefits you both by helping you lose weight and increasing your lung capacity. Breathing better in general means you’ll also be breathing better when you’re sleeping.
But working out relieves stress too. We’re constantly being pushed at work, or find ourselves having to take more responsibilities at home, thus getting a lot of stress hormones in our body. To get these out of our system instead of bottling them all up, we need to do what nature programmed us to, and that’s to start moving a lot more. Getting rid of all the accumulated stress of the day, we can get to sleep easier and also improve our sleep quality.
Among all the advantages of an exercise bike, the fact that it’s really convenient is what might convince most people to get one. After all, it’s not rocket science using one, and there are different models to fit different spaces.
If you get one for your home, you can easily use it right after getting out of bed in the morning or when you’re watching your favourite TV show. You can even pedal away when you’re studying or when you’re trying to solve a problem, it will help you think better.
But the fact that it’s a low-impact way of working out and that you’re sitting down means you don’t have to actively focus on your pedalling. So you can juggle using the exercise bike and do another thing simultaneously, which is great for people who find themselves wanting to exercise more but who are also dreaming of 48-hour days.
The fitness industry has exploded in the last years, once people realized how important it is to work out regularly. That means there are plenty of budget exercise bikes built from quality materials that can resist for years, even if they only have more basic functions.
But the point is you can find a reliable bike in literally every price range if you’re willing to do a bit of research. If you want an exercise bike with all the bells and whistles but can’t afford one, some brands even offer you the chance to pay it in instalments. You can also buy one with a friend or neighbour, and take turns using it, or get a used one – there are always options if you really want to give this a try.
10. Better Mood
There are plenty of health benefits of an exercise bike, but your mental health is the most important. When you’re working out, your brain releases endorphins, the hormones of happiness, which means you’re happier and you’re decreasing your risk for depression and anxiety.
And once you finish a hard workout, you’ll feel more contented, more satisfied and proud of your accomplishment, which helps lift the mood for the entire day. Reaching your fitness goals and becoming healthier will also improve your self-esteem and mood.
All that contributes to upping your confidence level and engaging in more interactions, taking more calculated risks and putting yourself out there more. Basically what we’re trying to say is that a better mood equals a better life quality.
11. Anybody Can Do It
Working on an exercise bike isn’t difficult at all, so it’s a very versatile fitness machine. That way, you can look at it as an investment for your whole family, from your kids to your grandma and grandpa.
Besides, it’s a great way to put a colicky baby to sleep. Just snuggle them in a baby carrier, and start pedalling; you’ll have a great workout and the baby will have a wonderful, restful sleep. You wouldn’t be able to do that on a real bike because of all the risks involved, but an indoor bike is as safe as it gets.
12. Burns Calories
Your lower body muscles are the biggest in your body, and working them out means you’ll be burning a lot of calories, about 300 for 30 minutes at an average intensity. You can increase the number of burnt calories if you’re using your hand weights as well, or if you’re increasing the speed and resistance level. Besides, heavier people lose more calories so you’re using your own weight to your advantage.
With 3500 calories burnt, you’re getting rid of a pound of fat, meaning you can be leaner in just a couple of weeks. But since you’re toning your muscles in the process, not just losing weight or body fat, you’ll also look and feel better.
Now that we’ve taken you through all the advantages of an exercise bike, let’s address some of your legitimate doubts.
Aren’t Other Machines Better?
If you want to work out at home, you might also consider other indoor machines like a rower or a treadmill. These work your muscles in a different way, though, but there are other differences too.
For instance, a treadmill is not as easy on your joints as an exercise bike, although it works your hamstrings a bit more, and it can also burn more calories. A rower is great for comprehensive, total body workouts, but you can use your hand weights to target more upper body muscles on an exercise bike.
It all boils down to your purpose and preferences. All these indoor machines can exercise most muscle groups really well, but a bike allows more upper body diversity, a chance to sit down, and it’s easier on the joints.
Aren’t Other Workouts Better?
There are many other types of exercises you could do. For instance, you could be running outside, riding a real bike, playing basketball or tennis, doing strength training, yoga, Pilates or HIIT. There are plenty of benefits for exercising outdoors, including a more natural stride, fresh air, or natural-flowing slopes, but the weather can also prove your foe.
Besides, strength training allows you to build more muscle mass, HIIT enables you to lose more calories, Pilates is much easier on the joints and Yoga can help build more endurance, while also relaxing you to Nirvana. But getting an exercise bike doesn’t mean you’ll be tied to it 24/7. You can choose other, more intense workouts a couple of times each week, while also doing Pilates or Yoga-inspired cool-downs after each session.
Are You Burning Enough Calories?
As we’ve said above, there are other indoor machines or workouts that can burn more calories. Still, you can maximise the calories burnt by planning your workouts according to your fitness goals and your stats.
Most exercise bikes provide basic stats like pace, distance, speed, while others offer heart rate measurements too. According to these, you can choose among the built-in programs, maybe even customise your own if the bike allows you to.
Using your hand weights and fiddling with the resistance according to your recommended heart zone will make your workouts more efficient. Losing more calories shouldn’t be a goal in itself though, but improving your fitness level according to your starting point is.
Will You Really Be Healthier?
We’ve discussed above a number of health benefits of an exercise bike, like better heart and lung functions, as well as a decreased risk for obesity, anxiety, and depression. However, using your bike doesn’t magically make all your problems disappear.
If you have medical issues, you should discuss an appropriate treatment with your doctor, and see how you include exercise in your routine. So working out can only take you so far in decreasing certain risks or improving certain conditions, but you also need to follow your doctor’s advice.
We’ve taken you through a series of benefits of stationary bikes, but also tackled some questions that might be bothering you. Hopefully, that helped you decide on whether or not you should use such a fitness machine.
So, will you incorporate using an indoor bike into your fitness routine? What other machines or workouts are you already doing?