Pedaling away on an indoor exercise bike provides many of the fitness benefits of road cycling without dealing with traffic or bad weather. Although you miss out on the scenery of an outdoor bike ride, you still get an aerobic and lower-body workout. If you hop on the stationary bike four times a week for 20 minutes a session, you're doing great things for your health. Depending on how hard you pedal, you may need to add in some extra activity during the week to stay healthy and trim.
Minimum Exercise Recommendations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week to stay healthy. If you're able to speak in short sentences, but not sing during your 80 minutes on the bike, you'll need to increase your exercise time. If you're pedaling at such a vigorous pace you can only speak a few words before you need a breath of air, that 80 minutes of riding is enough for the week.
Beyond the Basics
If your exercise goal is to lose weight or if you just want to see more health benefits from your workout, you'll need to increase your exercise time. This is true whether you're working out at a moderate or vigorous pace. According to the CDC, to really get a health boost, you should get 300 minutes of moderately paced aerobic exercise or 150 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
Adding Activity Time
Your additional exercise time can be more time on the bike, short walks, mowing the lawn, dancing or any activity that gets your heart rate up for at least 10 minutes. For a change of pace, you can combine moderate and vigorous exercise keeping in mind that one minute of vigorous activity equals two minutes of moderate activity. If you're currently working out only 80 minutes a week, slowly build up your exercise time over several weeks to avoid injury.
Strengthen Those Muscles
In addition to aerobic exercise, the CDC also recommends adults work strength training into their fitness routine. Exact minutes aren't given, but the center recommends you strengthen all of the major muscle groups at least two days each week. Whether you lift weights, use resistance bands or perform yoga, you should work each muscle group just to the point of fatigue. The major muscle groups you need to target twice a week are the legs, arms, back, abdomen, hips, chest and shoulders. You can do two long strength-training sessions or divide your workouts over the week such as working arms and legs on Monday and Wednesday, abs and back Tuesday and Thursday, then hips, chest and shoulders on Friday and Sunday.
Based in Portland, Ore., Tammie Painter has been writing garden, fitness, science and travel articles since 2008. Her articles have appeared in magazines such as "Herb Companion" and "Northwest Travel" and she is the author of six books. Painter earned her Bachelor of Science in biology from Portland State University.