9 Benefits of the Exercise Bike You Should Care About

Medically reviewed by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE on February 19, 2016Written by Alli Rainey on February 19, 2016
exercise bike benefits

Almost anyone can hop on an exercise bike and take it for a spin.

To get started, just get on the bike and start pedaling! You don’t need to take a class or learn any complex movements. Wear comfortable clothes and a supportive pair of athletic shoes. You’ll enjoy numerous benefits from regular exercise biking, including some that may surprise you.

1. It supports heart health.

Biking at a moderate effort level for 150 minutes each week helps your heart stay healthy, as stated by the American Heart Association (AHA). If you pedal harder, you only need to ride for 75 minutes a week for the same benefits.

Aim to ride 10 miles per hour or faster for your workout to count as a “vigorous effort.”

2. It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.

Pedaling on an exercise bike can help bring down high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels, says the AHA. Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels reduce your chance of stroke and heart attack.

Put in at least 120 minutes of moderate to vigorous cycling per week for these benefits.

3. It burns calories.

The calories you burn while riding depend on how hard and how long you bike. According to the Calorie Control Council’s Get Moving! Calculator, a 150-pound person biking for half an hour with “light effort” burns about 170 calories. The calorie burn for “moderate effort” rises to 239 calories.

Biking harder increases the calories burned during your workout. A tougher ride also ups the amount of calories you burn for hours after you’re done. That’s right, you can burn calories while you rest! This bonus calorie-burning benefit depends entirely on how hard you bike.

Following a 45-minute bout of cycling at a challenging pace, 10 men in their 20s and 30s continued to burn far more calories than normal for 14 hours, according to research published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

This after-exercise increase in calorie burning only happens after a vigorous cycling effort.

4. There’s an advantage to adding intervals.

Not into a fast-paced bike ride? Try pedaling harder, including short intervals lasting a few seconds to a few minutes in your bike session to increase your calorie burn, as suggested by the Mayo Clinic.

You don’t need to be exact when you add intervals to your workout. In fact, mixing up the length and intensity of intervals can help keep you more interested in what you’re doing. After each harder interval, pedal at a more moderate pace for a few seconds or minutes.

Regular interval training may make you able to pedal comfortably at a faster pace or for a longer time, or both!

5. It’s gentle on joints.

Your joints will thank you for the smooth, continuous motion of pedaling on an exercise bike.

Low-impact exercises, including stationary biking, tend to be easier on muscles and joints than high-impact exercises like running and jumping rope. If you can’t do high-impact exercises, the exercise bike is a great alternative.

If you already do high-impact activities, you might consider adding some lower-impact workouts into your regular exercise routine. This may reduce your chances of dealing with potential pain or strain from repetitive, high-impact workouts.

Remember, low-impact doesn’t need to equal low-intensity! Pedal harder, pedal faster, and pedal for longer amounts of time, and you stand to make some serious fitness gains.

6. It strengthens and tones muscles.

You rely heavily on the front and back muscles on your upper legs, called the quadriceps and hamstrings, when you pedal an exercise bike. You also use your calf muscles and hip flexors. Maintaining good posture keeps your stomach and back muscles engaged throughout your workout, too.

Some exercise bikes have moveable handles that you can pull and push with your arms while you pedal with your legs. If you choose this type of bike, you’ll get a total body workout.

7. It’s easy to use.

You don’t need any special training to ride an exercise bike. It’s one of the easiest exercise machines to start using. You’ll spend very little time and effort setting up a bike for your workout.

Most bikes have a user-friendly screen with programming aimed to help you design and track your workout. You get on the bike, and then you punch in your desired workout length, style, and difficulty by following cues on the screen.

You may need to adjust the seat and handle bar height if you’re using a bike in a fitness center or gym. You can usually accomplish this quite easily in one or two simple steps. If you’re not sure of the proper height, ask a trainer or spin teacher.

8. It’s an all-weather, anytime exercise opportunity.

An exercise bike lets you enjoy the freedom of fitting your workout in whenever it works for you.

Rain or shine, you can ride the exercise bike. A stationary bike also gives you a safe and convenient way to exercise early in the morning or late at night when it’s dark outside.

Don’t have the time to ride for half an hour or an hour? Ride for five, 10, or 15 minutes at a time until you reach your target amount of biking for the week. If you have an exercise bike available at home or work, you can take short breaks to exercise throughout the workday.

The exercise bike is ready to go pretty much anytime you are, making it an ideal no-excuses piece of exercise equipment.

9. It lifts your mood.

Feeling stressed out or down? Pedaling an exercise bike for a 20-minute ride at whatever pace suits you is likely to improve your mood, according to a study in Psychology, Health & Medicine.

Boost that feel-good impact by adding in a distracting form of entertainment to accompany your workout. A study reported in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine suggests that watching a television show you like while you exercise lifts your spirits more than just exercising alone.

The Takeaway

The exercise bike is a versatile and easy-to-use piece of gym equipment. If you’re curious how to adjust the bike so it fits you properly, ask an employee at your gym.

If you’re convinced and ready to purchase a compact and convenient exercise bike for your own home, check out products on Amazon! Already own a bike? Get a bike trainer you can set your bike on for your indoor workouts.

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