Does Using a Pedal Bike While Sitting Really Burn Calories?

Exercise bikes have limited benefits but can create aerobic workouts.
i Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

An exercise bike provides limited muscle use and resistance but can still create an effective workout for burning calories. Changing the way you pedal and the amount of resistance you use, you can create beginner, intermediate and advance workouts. While a stationary bike might not burn as many calories as other cardio machines, don’t discount this exercise.

Exercise Bikes

Stationary bikes come in upright or recumbent models, with recumbent models allowing you to lean back as you pedal, taking stress off your back. An upright bike allows you to stand on the pedals as exercise, varying your muscle use and creating a higher calorie burn. Putting your road bicycle on a bike trainer, or stand, allows you to turn it into an exercise bike you can use during inclement weather.

Calories Burned

A 155-pound person can burn approximately 520 calories per hour using a stationary bike at a moderate intensity, and almost 800 calories per hour using a vigorous intensity, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. How fast you pedal and what resistance levels you use while you pedal will affect your results.

Increasing Calorie Burning

To increase your calorie burn on an exercise bike, vary your pedaling speed and resistance. Raise the resistance and pedal harder, using more muscular effort to raise your heart rate. Decrease the resistance and pedal faster for short periods, creating intervals that burn more calories per minute. Sprint for 30 to 60 seconds, or longer if you are in very good condition, then recover with slow pedaling for one to three minutes. Check with your doctor before trying this type of exercise. Adding dumbbells to your workout will help you burn more calories as you work your upper-body muscles. Standing on the pedals will require you to use your muscles differently and against a higher body weight, raising your heart rate.

Workout Format

Beginners, intermediates and advanced exercisers should follow the same workout routine. Start with moderately intense pedaling against low resistance to gently stretch your muscles while your heart rate gradually increases. After a few minutes, once you are breathing harder, perform your workout at your desired pace. When you are near the end of your workout, reduce your resistance level to a very low setting and cool down for several minutes with easy pedaling. Let your heart rate get below 100 beats per minute and your breathing get back to normal, or close to it. Finish your workout with a thorough stretch of your muscles.

the nest