When I first considered buying an exercise bike, I was excited but didn’t understand all it could do for me. I thought getting into shape and muscle toning would be the biggest benefit. In order to learn about the other physical systems that would benefit from using an exercise bike, I decided to do online research.
Exercise bikes strengthen your whole body and especially target:
- The respiratory system
- The cardiovascular system
- Muscles, especially the large muscles of legs and back
- Bones and joints
- Weight loss
- Attitude and healthy habits
In your effort to get the most out of your exercise bike, you will want to know more details about the areas exercising with your bike targets. Learning more about the areas your exercise bike targets will help you stay motivated to use it.
Areas Your Exercise Bike Targets
When you use an exercise bike, you are using your whole body. As you begin to ride:
- Your heart rate increases.
- Your lungs expand to draw in air to provide oxygen to your body as it moves.
- Your large muscles extend and constrict.
- As your foot is pushing the pedal down, you are using your quadriceps.
- When you are pulling the pedal up, you are using your hamstring muscles.
Today, there are exercise bikes available that allow arm movement, too, making cycling more of a whole-body cardio workout. Since traditional exercise bikes have stationary handlebars, many people prefer some modern bikes such as this one that has built-in arm movement mechanisms.
This permits even more of a whole-body workout, increasing health benefits. It also feels very natural to move your arms as you move your legs. The CDC reports numerous benefits, both long-term and short-term, to regular exercise like cycling.
Cycling to Improve Endurance, Lung Capacity and Heart Health
You know the feeling you get in your chest when you try to walk up three or even two flights of stairs? Remember the embarrassment at the sound of sucking air as fast as you can while the person next to you talks about their weekend or their after-work plans?
Recognizing a Lack of Endurance
If you have to wait at the top of the stairs for your breath to come back and your face to turn from flushed to its regular color, this type of exertion indicates a lack of endurance.
Other symptoms of low endurance are:
- Shortness of breath
- Flushed skin
- Sore, shaky calves
- Pain in chest
- Burning Lungs
- Difficulty speaking while walking
You won’t have to feel like that again if you develop endurance by using your exercise bike daily.
Improving Respiratory Health with Cycling
Related to endurance are lung capacity and the respiratory system. Lung.org reports the benefits of aerobic exercise, including giving your respiratory system the kind of workout it needs to function more efficiently.
Lung capacity and lung function are both related to how long a person lives and the quality of that person’s life over time.
Cycling increases lung capacity as you breathe deeply and quickly to get enough air to your working muscles. This strain strengthens and enlarges lung capacity and develops the respiratory system.
As you pedal, your lungs are expanding and exchanging oxygen-depleted blood for fresh oxygen to deliver to your muscles. Not only are you working your muscles while cycling – but you are also exercising your lungs.
Improving Cardiovascular Health with Cycling
Cardiovascular health, which is your heart and blood supply system, is also impacted by aerobic exercise such as that done with an exercise bike. According to the CDC, heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, and one of the ways to prevent heart disease is to do aerobic exercise regularly.
Any exercise is beneficial, but some experts, including those from heart.org, say to exercise 150 to 75 minutes a week depending on how vigorous the exercise is.
Riding an exercise bike regularly and at a speed that increases your heart rate targets your endurance, lung capacity and cardiovascular health.
How Cycling Benefits Muscles, Bones, and Joints
Riding an exercise bike uses lots of muscles, especially the large muscles in the legs like the quadriceps and the hamstrings. The muscles in your back and your core are also engaged. Strengthening and developing muscles has several great benefits:
- Stability and balance
- Better metabolism
- Body mechanic functionality
- Good posture
Due to the stress that resistance exercise like cycling puts on bones, bones develop harder, stronger, and more functional as a result.
Bone density increases, and susceptibility to osteoarthritis decreases. Our skeletal system has the important job of holding us up and providing a framework for our muscles and joints. It protects us, generates blood cells, and stores minerals. So, by cycling on an exercise bike, you are targeting bone health and development.
A Resistance Workout that is Low-Impact
Riding an exercise bike is one of those rare exercises that allow for the advantages of a resistance workout without the jarring and impact of running or another similar bouncy activity. The impact of feet hitting a hard surface, such as pavement, is potentially a harmful activity when it comes to joint health.
Check out this article about the pounds of pressure placed on knees when it comes to exercises such as running. It is a lot.
While riding an exercise bike, your feet do not leave the ground and come back down with a hard hit, so your joints experience less trauma.
Joint health is another important target area of riding an exercise bike.
Cycling Improves Weight Loss, Lifestyle Choices and Attitude
The motivation behind exercise includes some of the same inspiration: lose weight, achieve a healthier lifestyle and feel better, inside and out. Cycling can help with all three of those!
Does Cycling Burn Calories? You Bet.
The idea behind weight loss is simple: burn more calories than consume. The number of calories burned while using an exercise bike is similar to many cardio exercises – and it really depends on how vigorously your body is working.
This Harvard Health study shows how many calories people of different weights burn while doing different exercises – you’ll see that an average, 155-pound person burns over 250 calories during 30 minutes of cycling.
Weight loss is one of the top reasons people exercise – and as you can see, using an exercise bike targets weight loss by burning calories.
Regular Use of an Exercise Bike Promotes Healthy Habits
Studies indicate that people who exercise are able to make better choices when it comes to health throughout the day – from food choices to lifestyle choices – which benefits physical and mental health.
That really makes sense as good choices build upon each other. You know how hard you worked when exercising; you don’t want to waste that hard work on some unhealthy food or another mistreatment of your body.
How Using an Exercise Bike Pumps Up Positivity
The final target area for using an exercise bike is attitude. You have felt the increase in positivity right after you exercise, and that feeling often carries through the day and into the next.
After you exercise, you often feel like you can do anything and are invincible. Whether it is from knowing you are making a healthy choice or from an increase in endorphins, exercise, including exercising on a bike, does improve mood and attitude, and the change is long-lasting.
Some of the mental and emotional benefits of exercise include:
- More positive outlook
- Better sleep
- Better health decisions
- More self-confidence
- Better memory
- Better stress management
- Reduce anxiety and depression
With how great you feel, you may find the correlation between exercise and mood to be the most striking area that using an exercise bike targets.
If you thought an exercise bike only toned your legs, now you know the truth. Cycling benefits all of your body’s systems and improves both body, mind, and spirit. Not many exercises provide the numerous benefits that riding an exercise bike does. And it can be done in the safety, security, and low-hassle area of your own home.