Stationary bikes mimic the motion of real cycling but allow you to exercise indoors. Unlike running, stationary bikes put little stress on the joints in your legs, leading to less soreness and pain after workouts.
Stationary bikes give you most of the benefits you get from running. Regular exercise on a stationary bike has been shown to reduce the risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases (1).
Additionally, stationary bikes are an effective type of exercise for people with lower body injuries (2).
Cycling shields the legs from impacts, and can also increase the blood flow to injured areas. It strengthens the quads and hamstrings, which can lower the risk of tweaking an injury as you heal. Cycling targets most of the main muscle groups in the lower body, improving tone and strength in the calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. It also works muscle groups in the arms, abdomen, and lower back.
Since stationary bikes allow you to add resistance, you can combine both cardio exercise and resistance training into one workout, increasing the number of calories burned.
Although generally considered safe, there are some risks associated with the use of stationary bikes. Avoid wearing any loose clothing, as this can get stuck in the mechanism and cause accidents. If you have a heart condition, speak to your doctor before using a stationary bike.
1Stationary bikes increase muscle tone in legs. A stationary bike activates all of the major muscles in the lower body, making it one of the most effective ways of toning the glutes, calves, and quads.
Since cycling puts less strain on joints, you can exercise for longer, leading to increased muscle growth compared to running.
2Stationary bikes can lower the risk of mortality. Studies have shown that running is one of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of mortality. More research has indicated that any type of cardio, including a stationary bike, provides the same life-extending benefits.
Just 5 to 10 minutes per day of cardio significantly improved heart health and lowered the risk of mortality from a wide range of cardiovascular conditions (3).
A stationary bike can help you lower high blood pressure, reducing strain on your heart, and preventing heart attacks. It can also help regulate blood sugar, lowering the risk of developing type II diabetes.
3Stationary bikes can reduce fatigue. Although it may sound counterintuitive, using a stationary bike can increase energy levels and reduce fatigue. Regular cycling causes the brain to release a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is important for energy.
One study found that cycling increased energy levels by over 15% and decreased fatigue by up to 60%. Participants exercised for 30 minutes a day, three times a week (4).
4Stationary bikes ease the strain on joints. Regular cardio is crucial for maintaining a healthy heart and avoiding weight gain. However, running can put a lot of strain on the joints, leading to injuries and pain. This can then make it much more difficult to exercise and get the regular cardio that you need.
Cycling is one of the lowest impact cardio exercises, putting little strain on the joints in the ankles, knees, and hips. As there is little impact, you’ll feel less sore after workouts, and may also be able to exercise for longer, increasing the number of calories burned.
5Stationary bikes can speed up recovery after injuries. After an injury to the lower body, it can be difficult to get a healthy amount of cardio. This can cause muscles to weaken and make it more difficult to exercise once your injury heals. Stationary bikes are commonly used by athletes after injuries, allowing them to maintain lower body strength without putting extra strain on their legs (5).
Cycling can increase blood flow to the injury, helping it heal faster. It also strengthens the glutes and calves, which can lower the risk of aggravating the injury. If you are recovering from a lower-body injury, speak with your doctor before using a stationary bike. Although safe, they can be harmful if you put too much strain on the injury.
6Stationary bikes provide an exercise opportunity, no matter the weather. Outdoor cycling does have many advantages over a stationary bike. However, it’s not as convenient, and you’ll have to brave the elements if you want to consistently get your workout in.
A stationary bike makes it more convenient to workout, increasing the likelihood that you exercise regularly.
7Stationary bikes can increase productivity. Many stationary bikes come with stands in front of the handles that allow you to read a book or magazine as you exercise. This can help keep you engaged throughout long workouts, and also makes you less likely to quit out of boredom.
It will also make you more productive, as you can multitask during your workout. If you exercise 30 minutes a day, then you may be able to read a book every other week. That’s over 25 books per year; all read while exercising.
8Stationary bikes can help you continue to exercise as you age. Many runners struggle to continue exercising as they age, as their joints begin to wear down from repeated impacts. Unlike running, cycling puts little strain on the joints, allowing you to continue to exercise as you age.
Studies have shown that 5 to 10 minutes per day of cardio exercise significantly lowers the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases among the elderly (6).
9Stationary bikes are compact and lightweight. Stationary bikes offer a more convenient alternative to treadmills. They are smaller and more lightweight, making them easier to use at home. Many bikes are powered by your peddling, so you may not have to have an outlet nearby.
10Stationary bikes combine cardio and resistance training. Research has shown that a combination of cardio and resistance training is crucial for maintaining strength and overall fitness (7).
Stationary bikes combine both forms of exercise, allowing you to strengthen your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves while improving heart health and lung function.
11Stationary bikes tighten up your core. Stationary bikes work more than just your leg muscles. It takes balance and upper body strength to pedal for long periods, which means that cycling will target your core and muscles in your back.
To further work out the muscles in your arms and abdomen, stand up while cycling. This shifts the load from your lower to your upper body, helping target the biceps, triceps, and muscles around your shoulders.
12Stationary bikes are effective for weight loss. Stationary bikes are an effective way of burning large amounts of calories, allowing you to shed pounds. Since cycling is low impact, it’s easier to exercise for long periods without harming your body, allowing you to further increase the number of calories you burn.
Equipped with multiple resistance settings, stationary bikes are also excellent for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This is a type of exercise where you alternate short bursts of high intensity with periods of moderate speed.
Research has shown that HIIT is more effective than standard cardio for burning calories and losing weight (8).
It’s also more efficient, allowing you to burn more calories over a given amount of time.
13Stationary bikes can reduce the risk of developing type II diabetes. Type II diabetes is a condition where the body struggles to regulate insulin and blood sugar levels. It can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as well as lead to obesity and vision problems.
Regular cardio exercise, including cycling, has been shown to lower the risk of developing type II diabetes significantly. Cardio reduces blood sugar levels, keeping them balanced. It also makes the body more sensitive to insulin, making it easier for the body to regulate blood sugar levels.
14Stationary bikes can reduce stress. Studies have shown that cardio causes the body to produce endorphins, molecules that boost mood and lower stress. It can also increase levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is important for reducing anxiety and improving mood (9).
Cycling is just as effective for releasing endorphins as other forms of cardio. Since cycling is also easier on the joints, it may be easier to exercise every day, giving you a daily mood boost.
1Stationary bikes may cause injury. Make sure that your feet are securely strapped to the pedals while using the bike. A slip can lead to leg injuries, and may even cause you to fall off the bike. Injuries are also caused by rushing a workout, as people don’t take the proper amount of time to warm-up. Start at a gentle pace, allowing your muscles to warm-up. This lowers the risk of strains or tears. Also, make sure that your bike seat is adjusted properly. If it’s too low or too high, you could strain yourself while riding. It can also cause you to crouch over, hurting your back. The handlebars should be high enough that you don’t have to lean over or hunch. If they are too low, you could strain your shoulders or back.
2Stationary bikes may affect heart conditions. Start at a slow pace, and work your way up; monitoring your heart rate to ensure that it doesn’t rise too quickly. If you have a leg injury, you should also speak to your doctor before using a stationary bike. Although cycling can speed recovery, it can also aggravate your injury if you push yourself too hard.
Begin every workout with a short warm-up period to allow your muscles to loosen up. This can help with soreness and lower the risk of muscle strains.
Make sure that the handlebars are not too low. Having the handlebars higher up keeps you from leaning and can prevent injuries to your back and shoulders.
Avoid leaning on the handlebars for prolonged periods. Although it may help you support yourself when tired, leaning puts added weight on your shoulders and can hurt your back.
Try to maintain proper form as you exercise, with your back straight and your body centered over the bike. Don’t lean to the side or over the handlebars. Keep your knees parallel to avoid straining your joints.
The amount of exercise needed will vary depending on your fitness goals. It is recommended that you get around 150 minutes of cardio every week for weight loss and heart health. If you want to lose large amounts of weight, 250 minutes per week may be required.
However, research has shown that as little as 5 to 10 minutes of exercise per day lowers the risk of mortality and improves heart health.
Are stationary bikes safe? Yes. Stationary bikes are a safe way of getting cardio, reducing strain on joints. However, there are some safety risks if used improperly, or if you have a heart condition.
Are stationary bikes more effective than running? That depends on your fitness goals. If you are training for a marathon or other long run, then a stationary bike will not serve as a substitute for running.
However, for overall cardiovascular health, stationary bikes are just as effective as running. Since your body absorbs less of an impact as you exercise, you may be able to work out for longer, leading to more calories burned.
Will stationary bikes burn as many calories as regular cycling? Stationary bikes and regular cycling will burn roughly the same amount of calories, although it also depends on the type of exercise you do.
Stationary bikes require you to peddle constantly, so you cannot coast like on a regular bike. This can actually increase the number of calories you burn as you workout.
However, stationary bikes don’t require you to turn as you cycle, which means they won’t activate the exact same muscles. This could lead to fewer calories being burned.
Does an exercise bike tone your legs? One of the primary functions of an exercise bike is to help you burn calories, but all that pedaling is also going to help you tone some of your muscles. Among the muscles that will get a workout are the quadriceps of your thighs, the hamstrings at the back of your upper legs, your calf muscles and your abdominals.
How often should you exercise on a stationary bike? It’s recommended that you get around 150 minutes of cardio per week. If a stationary bike is your main exercise, you should aim for around 5 sessions of 30 minutes every week.
However, there is still a benefit to lighter exercise, with studies showing that 10 minutes of cardio daily can reduce the risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases significantly.
How much do stationary bikes cost? There’s a wide range of stationary bike types, and the cost will depend on the number of added features you want. There are basic options that will cost around $150, whereas bikes with built-in video instruction may cost upwards of $2000.
Are stationary bikes a good workout? Stationary bikes help to burn calories and fat. However, to get the most benefit, you will have to spend a longer amount of time on your stationary bike than you would if you were running or doing some other form of cardio exercise.
What muscles are targeted by a stationary bike? As you would expect, most of the work is done by muscles in the lower-body. Cycling will target most of the main lower-body muscle groups, including the quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.
Stationary bikes also activate a number of muscles in the upper body. Cycling activates the abdominals and muscles in the lower back, as well as the shoulder, biceps, and triceps.
Is it safe to use a stationary bike after a knee injury? It depends on the type and severity of the knee injury. Many physical therapists use stationary bikes as part of the recovery process for leg injuries, as cycling can maintain muscle strength without aggravating the injury.
However, take extra caution when using a stationary bike after a knee injury. Speak to your doctor about what form of exercise is best. If they give you the green light, start slow and let yourself build up strength in your legs.
Are stationary bikes as good for the heart as running? Yes. Cycling is as effective for maintaining heart health as running and is also less likely to cause strain on your knees and back as you age. This makes it a better alternative for those who struggle to exercise due to lingering lower back or leg injuries.
Can you lose weight on a stationary bike? You lose 1 pound for every 3,500 excess calories you burn, so one hour of moderate exercise on a stationary bike per day — or about 40 minutes of vigorous work — helps you lose about 1 pound per week.
What is the fastest way to burn calories on a stationary bike? One of the ways to maximize calorie burn on a stationary bike is through high-intensity interval training. The idea is that you pedal as fast as you can for a short amount of time at a high resistance and then lower the resistance and speed for a recovery time then repeat.
Is it safe to ride a stationary bike every day? They can be safely used every day as part of a workout routine and may be ideal for people with joint problems. However, because stationary biking only works the lower-body, supplementing daily biking with exercises designed for the upper body is necessary to ensure a full-body workout.
Can stationary bikes reduce tummy fat? Research shows that combining aerobic exercises like cycling can truly improve the calorie burn. Muscles burn more calories, that is why the more you engage in cycling, the more calories you will be burning.
Do stationary bikes target the gluteus muscles? Riding a stationary bike also has many health benefits, increases your endurance and stamina, and is an ideal sport to lose weight. Besides the heart, the muscles targeted by the stationary bike are first the leg and thigh muscles as well as the buttocks (or glutes) and then the abdominals and back muscles.
Can stationary bikes reduce thigh and hip fat? While riding an exercise bike won’t spot-reduce fat on your thighs, it will help tone your thigh muscles. Because cycling works the legs, you can expect regularly riding an exercise bike to contribute to stronger, more toned legs, specifically including the thighs as well as your hips and rear end.
Are stationary bikes good your hips? Strong hips can reduce back pain and make it easier for you to exercise. Getting them has its benefits, too. Hip-strengthening exercises burn calories and tone the hips, thighs, and butt. A stationary bicycle ride can help you achieve the strong hips you need to look and feel good.
Can I ride a bike with sciatica? When you sit on a bicycle seat, it can put pressure on the nerve. But sitting does not always make symptoms worse. For example, if your sciatic nerve pain results from a problem higher up near the spine, you may tolerate riding a bike. If biking makes your symptoms worse, then try something else for exercise.
Stationary bikes are a popular form of cardio exercise, giving you nearly all of the benefits of running with less impact on the joints in the lower-body.
Studies have shown that 10 minutes of stationary bike exercise per day can lower the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases. It can also lower the risk of developing type II diabetes (10).
Stationary bikes minimize the strain on the ankles, knees, and hips, helping prevent injuries over time and reduce pain after exercise.
Furthermore, stationary bikes can be used to maintain fitness and speed up healing after an injury to the lower-body. Cycling can improve blood flow to injured parts of the body, and also strengthens the quads and calves, which lowers the risk of reinjuring the area.
Many people struggle to get enough cardio exercise as they age, as running damages their knees and hurts their back. Stationary bikes offer a low impact alternative that is suited for people of all age groups.
Stationary bikes are safe, although there are some risks if used improperly. Make sure to adjust the seat to an appropriate height, and strap your feet in so that they don’t slip. If you have a heart condition, speak to your doctor before using a stationary bike.