Come rain or shine, the stationary bikes in the gym or at home are always there for you, unlike the mountain bike you might have tucked away in the garage awaiting a sunny day. The drawback is that the natural ups and downs of a road or trail are not replicated on a stationary bike unless you program in a trail and alter your cycling position to approximate what you would do outdoors. Considering that many women use stationary bikes to lose or maintain their weight, switching up the pace can make your workout less boring and burn up those calories!
The number of calories burned in an exercise depends partly on the weight of the individual. Lighter people tend to burn less calories in stationary cycling, so for a 30-minute session at an easy pace of 5.5 mph, a girl weighing 120 lbs. will burn 109 calories. A 150 lb. person will burn more, at about 136 calories, and a 200 lb. person will burn 181 calories.
Gentle cycling is not much of a strain on the body, so if you really want to up the calorie burn, go for faster speeds. A woman who weighs 120 lbs. significantly raises her workout to a calorie burn of 218 calories by cycling at 12 mph, and if she can keep up a racing speed of 16 mph for 30 minutes, she will burn 327 calories. At 150 lbs., the 12 mph speed will burn 272 calories, and racing will use up 408 calories. If you weigh 200 lbs. and want to lose weight, a silver lining is that you will burn a massive 363 calories at the 12 mph stationary cycling speed, and if you can keep up the racing speed for a half-hour, you can burn a whopping 544 calories.
Mixing It Up
Stationary bikes come in two main types, recumbent and upright. The recumbent bikes do not lend themselves to strenuous cycling, so for maximal calorie burn, you are better off choosing an upright bike, in which you can lift your bottom up off the seat when you want to cycle as hard as possible, such as following a hills and valleys program. The potential for variation in position also allows you to tone more than one set of muscles in a session.
Spinning is a type of workout performed entirely on stationary bikes in a class setting. A woman might simply go through the motions in the gym and subconsciously avoid putting in any extra effort. In a spinning class, the eagle eye of the instructor should spot this and keep up the pressure. For a half-hour class, this unrelenting pressure can help an average participant burn as many as 450 calories.
Jillian O'Keeffe has been a freelance writer since 2009. Her work appears in regional Irish newspapers including "The Connacht Tribune" and the "Sentinel." O'Keeffe has a Master of Arts in journalism from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from University College Cork.