You might choose to hop on a stationary bike at the gym and start furiously pedaling as an excuse to tune in to your favorite TV that has just started playing on the gym's TV, but don't discount the exercise benefits you're about to receive. Riding a stationary bike will not only shred your lower body, but will also strengthen your core muscles and help you burn hundreds of calories.
Riding a stationary bike is primarily a workout for the muscles in your lower body, and if you pedal vigorously and use the bike on a regular basis, you'll likely begin to see muscle development in your quads and calves. In addition to these muscles, riding a stationary bike also works your glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors. To a lesser extent, this workout strengthens your abdominal and oblique muscles, which are found to the front and sides of your stomach, respectively. You build these muscles when you use correct posture on the bike; if your bike has a comfortable seat, avoid the temptation to slouch. Instead, sit straight and tall to force your core muscles to hold you up.
In addition to working several of your body's major muscle groups, cycling is an effective way to burn calories to help you lose fat. The rate at which you burn calories depends on such factors as your weight, the speed at which you pedal and the length of your workout. Someone who weighs 155 pounds will burn 260 calories in 30 minutes of riding a stationary bike at a moderate pace and 391 calories in 30 minutes of vigorous pedaling.
Stationary Bike Benefits
Riding a stationary bike provides many benefits beyond building muscle and burning fat. This exercise has virtually no impact, making it an ideal choice for someone who has joint pain. Other benefits include an increased range of motion for your muscles, better cardiovascular health and the release of endorphins to improve your mood. A stationary bike workout is often more convenient than riding a bike outdoors, as you can exercise without dealing with inclement weather.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that for optimal health, adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. If you don't have the time to squeeze 150 minutes of exercise into your schedule, try 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise. Riding a stationary bike is a simple way to meet these exercise requirements; a 30-minute pedal goes by like a flash and if you hit the bike seven days a week, you'll easily exceed the recommended 150 minutes.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.