The Health Benefits of Indoor Cycling

Riding an indoor bicycle regularly can bring serious head-to-toe benefits.

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Indoor cycling offers more than just a kick-butt, sweat-‘til-you’re-drenched workout. It also provides a host of head-to-toe health benefits that are nothing short of awesome. Some occur in the short-term, others in the long run. We’re not just talking about the major calorie-torching perks—that a 155-pound person can burn more than 700 calories in an hour-long session of vigorous cycling on a stationary bike—which can help you slim down or manage your weight.

We’re also talking about the fact that you’ll relieve stress, gain physical fitness, and boost your chances of staying healthy. And because indoor cycling is a low-impact activity, it’s a great way for people who have arthritis or who are recovering from orthopedic injuries (once they’ve received the green light from their doctors, of course) to get back into an exercise routine.

Here are five significant health benefits you can get from indoor cycling:    

  • Reduced stress. It’s no secret that regular aerobic exercise can improve mood and foster feelings of well-being. Indoor cycling is no exception, thanks to the endorphin rush that comes from the activity  (it’s similar to the runner’s high). In fact, a 2013 study from Australia found that a 20-minute indoor cycling session led to an increase in feelings of tranquility, self-efficacy, and energy in both younger and older women.
  • Improved body composition. Regular indoor cycling sessions can help you shed excess weight (that is, if you don’t compensate for all those calories you’ve burned by eating more). Plus, taking two or three classes a week can help you decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass after just 12 weeks, according to research from Italy.  
  • Better brain power. Research has found that aerobic exercise, in general, can enhance arousal, leading to improved performance on tasks that involve rapid decisions as well as memory storage and retrieval. In a review of studies on the subject, researchers at The University of Georgia in Athens found that cycling was linked with enhanced performance both during and after the exercise session, whereas running on a treadmill led to impaired performance during the workout but a small improvement afterward.
  • Improved muscle tone and definition. You may be pedaling nowhere in an indoor cycling class but you’ll still make major strides in the muscle definition department. Indoor cycling is great for toning and strengthening the muscles in your thighs, calves, and buttocks, in particular. An added perk: Giving these leg and butt muscles a good workout can also help strengthen the adjacent bones, tendons, and ligaments, which can help you perform everyday activities with greater comfort and ease, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. And if you consistently use the proper form on the bike, you’ll also give your core muscles a good workout.

    These are just a few of the body-mind benefits you can reap from regular indoor cycling. Consistent aerobic exercise can also bring you major improvements in your sleep quality and in your positive emotional experiences, which can lead to greater psychological well-being and coping abilities over time. Plus, gaining cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength can have positive ripple effects on your overall energy and sense of well-being. Really, what more could you ask for?!

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