Indoor cycling may be viewed by some people as the latest fitness fad, but it’s been around for over twenty years. It has proven benefits and many advantages over other forms of exercise. The South African cyclist Johnny G is generally credited with starting the revolution in exercise classes using stationary bikes. Over the past couple of decades, the equipment has evolved from a machine with a heavy weighted flywheel and friction resistance into the sophisticated indoor cycling bikes available for use in gyms or to purchase for use at home.
So-called ‘spinning classes’ and other group activities using stationary bikes are a great way to exercise if motivation is an issue for you. A personal trainer leads the session and takes you through a series of exercises designed to deliver a high-intensity cardiovascular workout. Music and shouts of encouragement help to maintain effort levels from the group. Thanks to improvements in technology, it’s now possible to take part in group cycling classes from the comfort of your own home.
The benefits of indoor cycling include the following.
1) Low impact aerobic exercise
Running and many other forms of cardiovascular conditioning can put a lot of strain on the knee, hip and ankle joints. This can be a serious problem for people with orthopaedic injuries. With proper form, indoor cycling can deliver the benefits of aerobic workouts without potential harm.
2) Reduced risk of injury
Indoor cycling may result in aches and pains due to muscle soreness, but injuries from outdoor cycling can be far more serious. Collisions with other cyclists or vehicles or falling off after hitting an obstacle in the road can lead to expensive medical bills and lengthy rehabilitation. Weather conditions, such as heavy rain or surface ice, make no difference to safety if you’re exercising on an indoor bike.
3) Improved muscular endurance
Pedalling against resistance is a great way to improve muscular endurance in the hamstrings, quads, calves and glutes. Developing these major muscles also strengthens the surrounding ligaments and tendons. The benefits of greater muscular endurance include improved ability to carry out physical activities without getting tired and reduced risk of injuries when exercising. Maintaining a healthy body weight also becomes easier as muscle mass develops.
4) Reduced stress
The mental benefits of exercise should not be overlooked, and numerous studies conclude that working out is one of the most effective ways to manage stress. Getting outside to experience sunshine and fresh air is part of this, but the same rush of adrenalin and release of endorphins can be created by indoor cycling. Half an hour on an exercise bike at the end of the working day can reduce stress levels and help you to sleep. There can be a social element to indoor cycling too as technology can connect you to take part in virtual races and group exercise sessions where you can interact with people.
5) Convenience to workout when you choose
Fitting regular exercise into a busy lifestyle is a common problem. Pressures of work, family and other commitments can make it difficult to attend gym classes at the times available. Early mornings are a good time to fit in a workout, but if it’s cold or dark outside it can be hard to motivate yourself. An indoor exercise bike may be the solution, as it means you can work out at any time of the day in a safe and comfortable environment.
6) Workouts can be customized
Indoor cycling workouts can be customized to achieve different goals. For example, if you want to build stronger quads you can dial up the resistance. In the world of outdoor cycling this would mean finding hilly terrain. Most indoor cycling machines offer pre-programmed options to take you through set routines including warm-ups and cool-downs.
An indoor cycling machine is a worthwhile investment if you want to improve fitness or lose weight exercising at home. Advanced machines aren’t cheap, but they can save you money over time in a gym membership and exercise class fees.