It’s no secret that cycling is good for your body, but is using an exercise bike as beneficial as strapping on your helmet and cycling down the street?
The truth is, exercise bikes make it easy to get in a whole-body workout without setting foot outside.
Not sure about the health benefits of exercise bikes?
Here’s why you should consider making indoor cycling part of your regular exercise regimen.
Avoid Environmental Dangers
Staying in for your ride reduces your risk of getting caught in inclement weather, but it can also protect you from exposure to environmental toxins. Regulating indoor air poses fewer challenges than dealing with the smog of the city or dust in the country.
Air Quality Concerns
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and your local air quality agency report on air quality across the United States.
Their ranking system runs from 0 to 500, with figures below 50 ranking as “good.” However, above 51, categories range from “Moderate,” which can pose a health concern to unusually sensitive populations, to “Hazardous,” which signifies emergency conditions.
The danger lies in conditions like excessive carbon monoxide buildup, common in cold weather in some areas, and high ozone.
Depending on the time of day, levels can peak or plateau. Exercising in the unhealthy air, especially when you’re breathing harder than average, causes you to take in more toxins than is healthy.
Staying indoors, particularly if your house employs an air filtration system, can help avoid respiratory issues, allergic reactions, and typical allergy flare-ups. If you have asthma or severe seasonal allergies, staying inside to exercise is not only convenient but healthier too.
Excessive Heat Warnings
In the summer, dangerous conditions involve more than pollen and ozone. Excessive heat causes severe illness and even death in both people who are healthy and those with pre-existing conditions. The National Weather Service typically issues advisories within 12 hours of the expected onset of dangerous conditions.
In some areas, a prolonged high of 100 degrees or above for more than two days warrants an excessive heat watch. Varying warning levels help people discern whether it’s safe to venture outdoors for even leisurely activities. Aerobic exercise might prove unsafe in those types of conditions.
Improve Cardiovascular Health
Americans are experiencing more cardiovascular disease than ever before.
In fact, heart disease is one of the top ten leading causes of death today. For that reason alone, exercising and maintaining cardiovascular health is vital. Luckily, one of the health benefits of exercise bikes is improved cardiovascular health.
If you have ever ridden a bike, whether an exercise bike or a conventional bicycle, you know that it gets your blood pumping. What you can’t feel is oxygen and nutrients traveling to your muscles, helping damaged tissues heal.
This increased circulation is healthy for all your internal systems but is also beneficial for working out your heart muscles. The American Heart Association suggests getting at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days per week is optimal for a healthy heart. With an exercise bike, it’s easy to reach that goal at home or the gym.
At the same time your heart is getting a workout, this simple aerobic exercise also helps relieve pain as your body excretes endorphins. You may feel healthier after riding an exercise bike, but odds are you’ll feel happier as well.
This whole-body burn can help you lose weight without leaving your home. Aerobic exercise is the key to losing weight, and cycling is no exception. Even low-impact aerobic activity burns calories and helps you slim down.
An exercise physiologist at Duke University noted that resistance training helps increase strength and build lean muscle. Aerobic exercise, however, is best for losing belly fat (and fat overall) because it burns the most calories.
Duke’s study showed that people who did aerobics lost more belly fat than people who performed both aerobics and weightlifting. Aerobic activity also led to improved insulin resistance and reduced liver enzymes. This is promising because those lower figures can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
You might feel like your lower half is feeling most of the burn, but more health benefits of exercise bikes lie in their ability to work your entire body out at once.
As you maintain the appropriate posture for riding an exercise bike, you’re working out everything from your gluteus maximus to your lower calves.
An expanded list of the muscles you’ll use while cycling includes:
As you’re working out the above muscles through your workout, you’re doing more than burning calories. When you demand a response from your muscles, you’ll gain strength in those areas. At the same time, those muscles are pulling on your bones. That’s what keeps your body moving.
However, this type of resistance- muscle on bone- happens when you push against the bicycle pedals, and increases your bone density.
This is according to Dr. Safran-Norton, a physical therapist who works with Harvard. Not only does riding an exercise bike bulk up your muscles, but it might also bulk up your bones, too.
Improve Joint Mobility
People with joint pain or stiffness might avoid riding a standard bicycle for fear of further pain or injury. However, a stationary exercise bike allows for an effective exercise regimen that’s easy on the joints. Gently working out stiff joints helps increase mobility and rehabilitate aching limbs.
Conversely, cycling on city streets or remote trails requires both cognitive focus and the ability to adapt to changing conditions physically. At the same time, feedback from the road or trail can jolt sore joints and cause swelling and pain.
Further, the health benefits of exercise bikes go beyond physical conditions.
Since stationary bikes let you pedal in place, there’s no unfamiliar terrain to navigate, taking the unknown elements of cycling out of the equation. This results in less stress since riders can work out without going out.