There's nothing quite like taking the bike for a spin around the neighborhood, through mountain trails or around a crystalline lake. If that isn't an option for you, hopping on the stationary bike at home or at the local gym is the next best thing. Stationary bikes offer most of the same health benefits as outdoor cycling, and many models come equipped with convenient readings to keep track of calories burned, distance traveled and resistance. If you're looking to keep fit, stationary cycling offers some alluring health benefits.
Often, one of the goals of any woman beginning an exercise routine is fat loss. According to MayoClinic.com, pedaling on the stationary bike for an hour at a leisurely pace will burn anywhere from 300 to more than 400 calories, depending on your weight. If you want to up the ante, alternate between periods of intense pedaling and easy spinning to simulate interval training, which can help reduce total body fat.
Burning calories is a pleasant result of any aerobic activity, but cycling will also help you tone your thighs and buttocks, as it builds the quads, hamstrings and glutes. Because you need to flex your foot on the pedal through each revolution, the muscles in your calves will also be strengthened through cycling. It's no wonder Olympic cyclists have monster thighs.
Some women find running to be more trouble than it's worth. The repetitive impacts that come with pounding the pavement can lead to stress fractures and unneeded damage to the ankles, knees and hips. Cycling is a lower-impact exercise that brings you through a smooth path without impact. Cycling can actually improve joint mobility and strengthen bones; it's sometimes recommended for people with chronic joint issues such as arthritis.
Just because cycling has loads of physical benefits doesn't mean you always get a free ride. As can be the case with any exercise, too much cycling can do more harm than good. One of the most common areas of injury associated with cycling are the knees. To avoid overuse stress, don't burn yourself out with cycling workouts every day. Mix up your routine. Also, adjusting your seat height may help you find an optimal range where you get the most out of your workout without taxing your joints unnecessarily.
Steven Kelliher is an experienced sports writer, technical writer, proofreader and editor based out of the Greater Boston Area. His main area of expertise is in combat sports, as he is a lifelong competitor and active voice in the industry. His interviews with some of the sport's biggest names have appeared on large industry sites such as ESPN.com, as well as his own personal blog.