What does an exercise bike do for your body? 7 Secrets from Research

What does an exercise bike do for your body? Here are 7 research-backed ways that riding a stationary bike can help you get the body you want.

Wanting to lose fat and build muscle? Want to live a longer, happier life? If yes, then riding an exercise bike might be a great next bold move for you!

Along with starting my day with an exercise bike routine for years, pedaling from Calgary to San Francisco, cycling in India for 2 months, and again in Iceland for a month, I also spent 12 hours researching the awesome things riding an exercise bike can do for your body. I included over 30 references to research articles.

Most articles on this topic are largely based on peoples’ opinions. I set out to fix this by scouring academic articles and including plenty of research-based benefits of riding exercise bikes.

What Does An Exercise Bike Do For Your Body? Here Is An Overview Of What We’ll Cover:

  1. It is a great way to burn fat
  2. It gets you exercising despite tempting excuses
  3. It lets you enjoy awesome health benefits
  4. It may help you live a longer, higher-quality life
  5. It reduces stress and anxiety which can add fat to your body
  6. It can increase mobility and strengthen muscles
  7. It gets you moving while being low impact and gentle on the joints
  8. Next Steps: How To Continue To Lose Weight On An Exercise Bike
  9. What Type Of Exercise Bike Should I Get?

Riding my pedal bike for 4 weeks in Iceland and losing 40 lbs of fat solidified my belief that working out on exercise bikes can do great things for the body. Surprisingly, I also gained strength in my workouts during this time.

This was at the start of our cycling trip in Iceland.

Most of us accept that if we consistently burn more calories than we consume, we are going to lose weight. Whether you are looking to lose some fat or build some muscle, exercise bikes can help.

It Is A Great Way To Burn Fat

 

 

Sports Scientist, Dr. A. Bianco et al. (2010) found that indoor cycling helped sedentary women lose weight without restricting calories. The researchers discovered that women who completed 24 sessions on the exercise bikes lost 4.3% body fat and those who completed 36 sessions saw an average of a 5% decrease in body fat percentage [1].

Additionally, in a randomized controlled trial, Walter Verruisio and a team of researchers found that by riding exercise bikes, middle-aged and elderly people with metabolic syndrome were safely able to lose belly fat and reduced the size of their waists [2].

While it may be obvious, the research indicates that a healthy diet combined with exercise bike sessions leads people to lose more weight than people who only restrict calories [3].

Like many other forms of cardio, riding an exercise bike can help you burn fat. In a study with 10 healthy men, the researchers found that low to medium intensity-exercise reduced the participants’ appetites. 

Not surprisingly, people who eat less and move more, often lose fat. Exercise reduces ghrelin and increases leptin sensitivity. This hormonal activity blunts hunger [4] and can make losing fat much less painful.

It Gets You Exercising Despite Tempting Excuses

 
…But I’m so tired!
 

Steven Pressfield explains that whenever we want to do something important and meaningful to upgrade our lives, a part of us will resist and try to derail us. 

Exercise bikes can eliminate the following excuses and get us burning more fat:

  • Common Excuse #1: “I worked hard all day – I just want to relax and watch TV!” 
  • Solution: Go ahead, binge watch TV all night, but make sure those pedals are moving…even if really slow
  • Common Excuse #2: “It’s too cold or rainy out to exercise” 
  • Solution: Lucky for you, you have a roof over your head and can ride your stationary bike inside!
  • Common Excuse #3 “It’s too hot to exercise” 
  • Solution: Put a fan in front of your bike or turn on the air conditioning.
  • Common Excuse #4: “I just don’t feel like it – I’ll do it tomorrow”
  • Solution: Think of somethings you want to do like talking on the phone, watching YouTube videos, etc. Only let yourself enjoy one thing from list if you ride your bike while doing it.
  • Common Excuse #5: “I’m not in good enough shape and I don’t know how”
  • Solution: Exercise bikes can provide a great cardio work out for pretty much every level of fitness.
  • Common Excuse #6: “I heard there are more effective ways to lose weight.”
  • Solution: Crush your doubts with some inspiring stories of regular people who have lost life-changing amounts of weight and boldly commit to a fitness routine
  • Common Excuse #7: “I really don’t want to the gym.” 
  • Solution: Work out in the comfort of your home! This can also help you save up to $1200 a year on gym memberships [5]

If you want that motivation of a personal trainer, check out a video like this 30 Minute Workout:

It Lets You Enjoy Awesome Health Benefits

 

When we are trying to improve our fitness, it’s common for people to think, “This is no fun – I have to give up a bunch of my other routines!”

One way to protect yourself against this type of thinking is to focus on all the things you’re gaining by using your stationary bike.

Exercising more can make your life better by improving your:

  • Energy levels [6]
  • Ability to run up stairs at work without having to take a breather after (especially if you use HIIT)
  • Cardiovascular fitness [7]
  • Brain function. Exercising increases white matter in the brain [8] 
  • Blood pressure [9]
  • This healthy habit may very well filter through and enhance all other areas of life [10]

It May Help You Live A Longer, Higher-Quality Life

 

 

A group of researchers found that people who exercise an average of 15 minutes a day were 14% less likely to die of cardiovascular diseases. Compared to sedentary people, 15 minutes of physical activity also extended participants’ life expectancies by 3 years [11]

“Every additional 15 min of daily exercise further reduced all-cause mortality by 4% and all-cancer mortality by 1% [in] all age groups and [with] both sexes, and to those with cardiovascular disease risks. Individuals who were inactive had a 17% increased risk of mortality compared with individuals in the low-volume group” [12]

Research has also shown that physical activity reduces the risk of:

It Reduces Stress And Anxiety Which Can Add Fat To Your Body

 

Ever find yourself stressed out and just needing to relax in the evening? How do you soothe yourself when you just need to calm down?

Truly allowing yourself to relax can be tough.

Uncovering and scheduling healthy ways for you to kick back and kick the stress and anxiety to the curb can be a game-changer.

The challenge is that many of us get hooked on more convenient but less healthy habits to cope with our stress and anxiety.

So many of us have learned to deal with stress by:

  • Over-indulging on comfort foods
  • Drinking soda or consuming other empty calories
  • Getting drunk or buzzed
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Eating more than necessary of something else
  • Watching too much Netflix
  • Insert another habit that’s hard to shake

A couple of years ago, I started asking my colleagues how they relaxed in the evening. I often shared that eating was my ‘go-to’ strategy for unwinding. I learned that many of my friends who considered themselves overweight did the same.

What I found interesting, is that people who considered themselves to be in good shape often used physical activity to keep stress and anxiety at bay.

One woman in particular had replaced the social norm of going out to eat or drink with going for a spin class, walk, or run with a group of friends.

After nerding out on some research, I discovered there was some method to my fit friend’s madness.

Researchers have found that exercise plays an important role in managing stress levels [18][19]

Dr. Erica Jackson explains that 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise can have a calming impact that lasts for hours afterwards [20].

Dr. Peter J. Carek, et al., explains that exercise can help balance stress-related hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline [21]

In addition, “it is estimated that between 75% and 90% of primary care physician visits are caused by stress-related illnesses” [22].

According to Dr. Erica Jackson, while there is no cookie-cutter approach to dealing with stress, other elements to consider when creating a stress management plan include:

  • Developing a supportive network of friends
  • Making a plan for eating healthy
  • Identifying the triggers that lead to stress and anxiety
  • Getting enough rest [23]

Personally, I have found that riding my exercise bike is a great way to shift my focus away from my concerns at work and other life issues. Riding my exercise bike causes me to pay less attention to my worries and more attention to my breathing, body temperature, and Netflix series.

It Can Increase Mobility And Strengthen Muscles

 

 

After observing women complete either 24 or 36 exercise bike sessions, Dr. A. Bianco et al. (2010) found that the woman not only lost 4-5% body fat, but also increased their muscle mass by 2.3% and 2.6%  [24].

Dr. Sozen Hasan found that exercise bikes activated the following muscles:

  • Gastrocnemius
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Rectus Femoris [25]

Activating these muscles on exercise bikes can lead to strengthening and toning those muscles.

In a volume of The Physicians and Sports Medicine, Dr. Joseph Buckwalter and Dr. Nicholas DiNubile explain that a program of physical exercise can assist seniors citizens in maintaining strength, mobility,  quality of life, and independence [26]

A. Carr et al. (2007) explains in the Journal of Clinical Biomechanics, that recumbent exercise bikes are useful in building the muscles for people seeking to improve their ability to step up, sit, or stand [27].

Exercise bikes have also been show to help improve the mobility of the hips, knees and ankles [28]

It Gets You Moving While Being Low Impact And Gentle On The Joints

 

 

Exercise bikes provide a smooth, non-jarring motion that tends to be easy on the joints. This makes it a great choice for people with sensitive joints or arthritis.

Researchers found that after completing a 10-week medium-intense training program using exercise bikes, 13 patients with rheumatoid arthritis improved their cardio fitness levels without negative effects [29].

Next Steps: How To Continue To Lose Weight On An Exercise Bike

 

Now that you know the awesome benefits, why not turn riding an exercise bike into a rewarding habit?

You will likely find that no matter how fit you get, your exercise bike can always provide a challenging work out.

At this point you might want to consider the science behind losing weight and fat loss.

Writers at Harvard Health, explain that each pound of fat consists of about 3,500 calories.

This means that if you would like to lose a pound of fat each week, you have a few options. You could:

  1. Consume 3,500 calories less than your body uses each week (or 500 calories less each day)
  2. Burn 3,500 calories more than your body uses each week (or 500 more per day)
  3. Reduce your calories and increase the number of calories you burn so that you are in a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories [30]

Losing weight on an exercise bike comes down to the following variables:

  • the length of time you’re riding for
  • the intensity at which you ride
  • the frequency of your rides, and
  • the number of calories you consume

If you would like to lose weight on an exercise bike, you need to burn more calories than you consume.

One way to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, is to increase the intensity of your workout. High intensity interval training (HIIT) can be a fantastic way to crank up your workout.

Below is an example of a HIIT workout on an exercise bike:

What Type Of Exercise Bike Should I Get?

When Looking For An Exercise Bike, The Four Main Options Are:

  • Recumbent
  • Upright
  • Semi-recumbent
  • Dual Action

Dual-action exercise bikes are available in the upright, recumbent, or semi-recumbent positions. They also provide the opportunity to move your arms which can lead to burning more calories during a workout.

Some exercise bikes are also adjustable and can be used in the recumbent, semi-recumbent, or upright positions.

Researchers saw no significant difference between the level of activation of muscle groups between recumbent and upright exercise bikes [31].

Pros Of Recumbent Exercise Bikes:

  • Often better for people with lower back problems
  • The seat is usually more comfortable
  • Easier to get on and off than upright bikes
  • Recumbent exercise bikes may cause less stress on knee joints [32]
  • Sitting in a less upright position may put less pressure on the knee joints [33]

Pros Of Upright Exercise Bikes

  • They tend to take up less space than recumbent bikes
  • More like riding a road or mountain bike
  • Researchers found “the rectus femoris muscle demonstrated greater activity during upright pedaling” when compared to recumbent pedaling [34].

What To Do Next?

Looking to enjoy all the awesome benefits that people get from riding exercise bikes?

Check out this article to find out how to make yourself crave your next exercise bike workout session and make it a life-long habit.

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