Exercise bikes are among the best fitness machines for a good cardio workout. A 2019 review shows that stationary bike workouts may also lead to better lipid profile, blood pressure and aerobic capacity (Medicina 2019).
The cardio benefits of exercise bikes go beyond an efficient caloric burn.
Let’s discuss these other effects of biking on the body in detail. With a better understanding of such benefits, we should be able to give our fitness goals more meaning besides weight loss.
What Makes an Exercise Bike Good for Cardio Fitness?
Here are 4 reasons why consider biking to boost your heart health.
1. It allows aerobic activity for cardiovascular conditioning.
Cycling is an effective way to boost your heart rate. Every step on the pedal makes your heart beat faster and pump more blood to transport oxygen throughout the body. As a result, you increase your body temperature, sweat and breathe deep, and gain strong muscles and lungs. And with cardiovascular conditioning, you also get these health advantages.
Increasing our heart rate by working out with exercise bikes improves oxygen and blood flow (Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism (2014). This effect allows your body to deliver the essentials that keep your brain healthy and functioning. Studies confirmed that physical exercise enhances memory, too, making us resilient to Alzheimer’s disease (Pedrinolla et. al. 2017).
Better sleep patterns and mood
Exercise bike cardio workouts may wear you out. But it also lessens anxiety and helps you sleep better to recharge. Ample rest also means less stress.
With stationary bikes and exercise thrown into the mix, your body releases the happy hormones endorphins and serotonin that keep you in a euphoric mood. A study in 2018 also concluded that a cycling workout is one of the top physical activities that can lessen mental health burdens (The Lancet Psychiatry 2018).
Lower blood glucose levels
Our muscles use glucose for energy when we work out. This way, our body responds more to insulin and allows blood sugar levels to decrease naturally.
By doing mild to moderate exercises, we’re also increasing the production of essential proteins like pyrogen and interferon. These proteins can heighten white blood cell activity to fight viruses and bacteria – a benefit we all need nowadays.
2. It is efficient for weight and fat loss.
We know that weight and body fat issues do not go with cardio fitness. Good thing exercise bikes are effective in burning calories and meeting weight loss goals. Depending on the workout intensity, exercise duration and body weight, a 30-minute cycling exercise lets you lose close to 300 calories.
Keeping the weight off is more successful with low-calorie food choices and interval training workouts.As you burn calories, you also lose fat in the process. Without regular exercise, unused fats accumulate and harden on the walls of the veins. Narrower passages, in turn, inhibit smooth blood flow. Poor blood circulation then leads to all sorts of body pain, numbness, weakness and dysfunction.
Research has long confirmed how exercise bikes help with fat loss. For instance, a study in 2010 concluded that pairing indoor cycling with a low-calorie diet contributes to efficient weight and fat control (Arquivos brasileiros de cardiologia 2010). More recently, in a study published in 2015, experts correlated aerobic exercises with reduced visceral fat (or belly fat) (Journal of Hepatology).
3. It can increase good cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can be bad (LDL) or good (HDL). Bad cholesterol can deposit fats (or plaque) in the arteries, leading to blocked veins and hindered blood flow.
On the other hand, good cholesterol prevents that from happening by directing fats away from the bloodstream. Heart health problems occur if fat and bad cholesterol are too high in the body. A cardio workout with exercise bikes is one way to address this, given that aerobic activities help control cholesterol levels.
4. It can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Perhaps, one of the most crucial benefits of exercise bikes is protecting us from cardio ailments, especially as we grow older. Increasing the heart rate, burning calories and fat, and improving cholesterol levels ultimately cut our risk of high blood pressure, cardiac arrest and stroke.
Did you know that cycling every week for up to 32km can lower your heart disease risk by 50% (BMJ 2017)? Researchers also found that exercise regimens provide similar effects as anti-hypertensive medications (British Journal of Sports Medicine 2018). This finding emphasises how physical activities like cycling can help people with existing heart conditions and make them less reliant on prescription drugs.
Is an Exercise Bike Better for Cardio than Other Machines?
There is no best machine for cardio fitness because the choice, in the end, will come down to your preference. But there are also many reasons why stationary bikes make a better option.
Here’s are 4 brief comparison of this exercise bike with other cardio equipment.
1. Elliptical vs Indoor Bike
Indoor exercise bikes make a great alternative to elliptical machines as they share a similar cycling movement pattern. And while moderate elliptical training burns slightly more calories, indoor cycling is better for safer cardio workouts. Specifically, people recovering from an injury or surgery can opt for recumbent bikes to stay active and maintain good cardio health. Indoor bikes are also more budget and space-friendly than most elliptical models.
2. Treadmill vs Indoor Bike
Exercise bikes are better for people with joint issues as running on a treadmill causes more impact. Our body also adjusts to the treadmill speed setting, making it hard for those with balance issues to keep up. Also, treadmills are generally bulkier and more expensive. Check out this exercise bike vs treadmill article for more info.
3. Rowing Machine vs Indoor Bike
On the other hand, mastering the rowing stroke and form for maximum health benefits can take more time and practice.Most indoor rower models are expensive machines with a large footprint, too. And if you plan to work out in your home with limited space, a stationary exercise bike is probably easier to handle than a rowing machine in an apartment.
4. Outdoor Bike vs Indoor Bike
Outdoor biking can give you a great cardio workout. However, body balance is essential to overcome uneven paths and inclines. Modern stationary bikes are a much safer option in this case. Some models, like the NordicTrack Commercial S22i, even come with global workouts that simulate outdoor terrains. Indoor bikes let you exercise rain or shine, too.
How Can I Get a Good Cardio Exercise Bike Workout?
We now know that an exercise bike is ideal for better heart health. It also stands up well with other cardio machines.
But to improve your cycling workout and gain optimum cardiovascular benefits, here are some helpful tips you can apply:
- Look for an exercise bike with the right features. Check the resistance levels of your machine and its built-in programs. For exercise variety, consider a model with an adjustable incline, too.
- Try interval training. When you’re ready, convert your moderate cycling routine into a quicker-paced, more intense workout. With HIIT, you can boost your heart rate, metabolism and caloric burn.
- Extend your workout. A longer exercise duration leads to better health outcomes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults need at least 30 minutes a day of exercise, five days a week. Later, you can stretch this to 45 minutes to 1 hour and add strength training for best results.
If you are asking yourself, how many calories will I burn on an exercise bike, let me tell you something. Cycling is not all about burning calories and losing weight. It’s also an excellent activity to improve your heart health and longevity. And if you make it a routine, this positive lifestyle change can give you invaluable long-term benefits.
1. Are smart bikes better than regular ones?
Smart bikes suit you best if you prefer high-tech machines and have no lower limb injuries. On the other hand, a regular stationary bicycle is better if you have a tight budget and limited home gym space. Recumbent bikes are also best for users with arthritic joints or those recovering from an injury.
2. Can stationary exercise bikes tone muscles?
You can use a stationary bike to work on your muscles. Specifically, this machine can tone your upper and lower legs, hips, core and upper body. It also targets your most important muscle – the heart! But a consistent routine, proper form, a healthy diet and the right bike type are also essential for the best results.
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