Riding a stationary exercise bike is an efficient and effective way to burn calories and body fat while strengthening your heart, lungs, and muscles.

Compared to some other types of cardio equipment, a stationary bicycle puts less stress on your joints, but it still provides an excellent aerobic workout.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of a stationary bike workout, and the kinds of workout plans that can help you reach your fitness or weight loss goals.

1. Boosts cardio fitness

Cycling is an excellent way to get your heart pumping.

Cardiovascular or aerobic workouts, such as cycling, strengthen your heart, lungs, and muscles. They also improve the flow of blood and oxygen throughout your body. This, in turn, can benefit your health in a number of ways, including:

  • improved memory and brain functioning
  • lower blood pressure
  • better sleep
  • improved blood sugar levels
  • a stronger immune system
  • better mood
  • lower stress levels
  • more energy

2. Can help with weight loss

Depending on the intensity of your workout and your body weight, you can burn more than 600 calories an hour with a stationary bike workout. This makes indoor cycling an excellent workout option for burning calories quickly.

Burning more calories than you consume is the key to weight loss.

3. Burns body fat

Working out at a high intensity helps to burn calories and build strength, which, in turn, can lead to fat loss.

A 2010 study found that indoor cycling, combined with a low-calorie diet, was effective in reducing body weight and body fat in the study’s participants. It was also effective in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The participants cycled for 45 minutes three times per week, and they consumed 1,200 calories per day for 12 weeks.

4. Provides a low-impact workout

A stationary bike workout is a low-impact workout that uses smooth movements to strengthen bones and joints without putting much pressure on them. This makes it a good workout option for people with joint issues or injuries.

Your ankles, knees, hips, and other joints can be put under a lot of stress when running, jogging, jumping, or doing other high-impact aerobic exercises.

Because your feet don’t lift off the pedals with a stationary bike, this option is kinder to your joints, but it still provides a challenging and effective workout.

5. Strengthens legs and lower body muscles

Riding a stationary bike can help build strength in your legs and lower body, especially if you use a higher resistance.

The pedaling action can help strengthen your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Additionally, it can work the muscles in your core, back, and glutes.

If you use a bicycle with handles, you’ll also be able to work your upper body muscles, including your biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

6. Allows for interval training

Interval training allows you to alternate short bursts of intense exercise with longer intervals of less intense exercise. This type of training can help you burn more calories in less time, and also elevate your cardio fitness.

Stationary bikes allow for varied resistance levels, so you can exercise at low, medium, or high intensities. This makes it ideal for an interval training workout.

7. Safer than road cycling

Cycling outdoors can be a great way to exercise, but it does come with certain hazards, such as inattentive drivers, uneven or slick road surfaces, and poor visibility.

Also, if it’s hot and humid, or cold and wet, it can be hard to muster up the motivation to head outdoors. It might not even be safe to do so.

With indoor cycling, you don’t have to be concerned about traffic, road conditions, or the elements. You can work out safely at a comfortable temperature any time of the year.

There are generally three different types of stationary bikes: upright, recumbent, and dual-action. Each one offers slightly different benefits.

Depending on your fitness level, joint health, and workout goals, you can focus on just one bike, or for more variety, you can try all of them at different times.

Upright bike

One of the most popular types of stationary bikes is the upright bike. It’s similar to a regular bicycle, with the pedals positioned under your body.

The upright bike provides a great cardio workout while also strengthening your leg and core muscles. Depending on your preference, this bike can be used both standing or sitting.

The downside of this bike is that the upright position can put pressure on your hands and wrists. Also, the small seat can be uncomfortable, especially for longer workouts.

Recumbent bike

With a recumbent stationary bike, you sit in a comfortable reclined position on a larger seat that’s positioned back from the pedals.

This type of bike puts less stress on your upper body, joints, and low back. Your body is fully supported, which can make your workout less intense. You’ll also have less fatigue and muscle soreness after your workout.

A recumbent bicycle is a good option if you have limited mobility, joint issues or injuries, or back pain. It’s also a safer option for older adults or those new to exercise.

Dual-action bike

A dual-action bike is the least like a regular road bicycle. It has handlebars that move back and forth to target your upper body muscles. So, while you’re pedaling and working your legs, you’re also able to get a solid upper body workout.

Other types of bikes

For spin classes, the indoor cycle bike is the most popular option. It’s similar to an upright bike, but with an elevated seat.

The difference is that resistance is created with a weighted flywheel on the front, which is typically about 40 pounds. The resistance can be adjusted to simulate hills or riding into the wind.

A less common type of stationary bikes is a fan or air bike. This bike doesn’t have any preprogrammed options. Instead, you create resistance by pedaling.

The faster you pedal, the faster the wheel blades spin and the more resistance you generate. These bikes are generally less expensive than other types of stationary bicycles.

Stationary bikes are safer than riding a bike out on the road, but there are still safety concerns to consider:

  • You may develop muscle fatigue or injury from the repetitive motion or from using poor form.
  • You could fall off the bike or injure yourself if you don’t balance yourself correctly.

To stay safe with a stationary bike workout, keep these tips in mind:

  • Always position your body correctly and use proper form. If you’re unsure of the right position or correct form, ask a certified personal trainer for help.
  • Take a break to allow your body time to recover if you develop any pain or muscles aches from cycling.
  • Don’t exert yourself beyond your own limits, especially when cycling in a group class. Don’t feel compelled to keep up with the group. It can be dangerous to push yourself too hard, especially if you’re new to exercising.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have issues with your balance, blood pressure, or heart health to make sure a stationary bike workout is safe for you.

For beginners

If you’re just beginning to building your fitness, the key is to start slowly and to gradually add more time and intensity.

Start with a 25- to 35-minute workout and progress from there, adding time in 1-minute increments as you build up your fitness.

Here’s a sample beginner’s workout:

  1. Start off pedaling at a low intensity for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Switch to medium intensity for 5 minutes, followed by:
    • high intensity for 1-2 minutes
    • medium intensity for 5 minutes
    • high intensity for 1-2 minutes
    • medium intensity for 5 minutes
  3. Finish by pedaling at a low intensity for 5 minutes.

For weight loss

This type of workout helps to burn calories and body fat, and it can be a good option to include in a weight loss plan. It’s also a good option if you want to switch up your resistance levels quickly.

Here’s a sample weight loss workout plan:

  1. Start off pedaling at a low intensity for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Switch to medium intensity for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Alternate between high intensity (1-3 minutes) and medium intensity (3-5 minutes) for the next 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Cool down by pedaling at a low intensity for 5-10 minutes.

For interval training

Once you’ve built up your fitness, you may want to boost your strength and stamina with interval training.

Here’s a sample interval training plan:

  1. Start off pedaling at a low intensity for 10 minutes.
  2. Switch to medium intensity for 10 minutes, followed by:
    • high intensity for 2 minutes
    • low intensity for 2 minutes
    • high intensity for 2 minutes
    • low intensity for 2 minutes
    • high intensity for 2 minutes
  3. Cool down by pedaling at low intensity for 5-10 minutes.

Over time, you can increase your intervals one minute at a time.

Cycling indoors can help you meet your fitness goals in rain, shine, or whatever the weather throws at you. In addition to its many cardiovascular benefits, the stationary bike can help you boost your muscle strength, lose weight, and burn body fat while being kind to your joints.

Use an app or journal to track your progress over time so you can see your results and stay motivated.

Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program if you’re new to exercise, take medications, or have any medical concerns.