How long you should exercise on a stationary bike depends, in large part, on your exercise goals. Whether you are beginning or you are a long-time rider will also influence the amount of time you will want to spend on an exercise bike.
Other factors include the style and construction of your bike, your overall health, your degree of fitness and any other physical activities you might be adding.
Recommended Daily Exercise
According to Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans, adults need 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week. Ideally, the exercise sessions should be spread out over the week for maximum benefit.
If you divide 300 by 5, the result is 60, or five 1-hour sessions per week. Not all of that time needs to be riding an exercise bike. Some of it could be walking vigorously, swimming, raking the yard, mopping a floor or moving heavy boxes. Ideally, at least thirty minutes per day should be spent on the kind of exercise that could be considered cardiovascular.
That is, you work at it hard enough and long enough to raise your heart rate, and perhaps even to *ahem* sweat a little.
Upright Bike vs. Recumbent Bike
The style of bike you have on hand and your physical health are absolutely a consideration. If you are recovering from surgery that involved your core muscles, have had a back injury or even if you just are not used to exercising, a recumbent bike could be a kinder place to start.
The seat of a recumbent bike gives more support than the classic bicycle seat on an upright bike, and you will be pushing out on the pedals rather than down. You will be exercising a slightly different set of muscles. With a recumbent bike, your exercise will focus on thighs, hip, knee, and ankle joint, with little effect on your core. With that said, you can raise your heart rate, increase your breathing, and definitely work up a sweat.
Best Stationary Bikes for Indoor Cycling Offers
Upright Bikes and Moveable Handlebars
When it comes to indoor cycling, upright bikes do everything the recumbent bike does, except supporting your back. With an upright bike, you will exercise your core muscles somewhat because you will need them to balance on the seat and keep yourself in a position to pedal.
This means that your lower back and stomach muscles come into play, as well as your hips, thighs, and calves. For advanced riders, indoor exercise bikes with moveable handlebars offer added workout options. You can use the pedals or the handlebars as a separate workout, or, as you become more skilled and toned, use both at the same time for a coordinated, all-out, intense workout.
Level of Intensity
Speaking of intensity, you will not want to ride any exercise bike at full intensity for sixty minutes or even thirty. Many modern indoor bicycles come with built-in, preselected programs that help you adjust the intensity of your ride. These programs help you begin with a warmup, then intersperse burst of harder pedaling with easier stretches where you can catch your breath and just keep your joints rotating.
Stretching, Warming Up, and Cooling Down
Smart athletes never begin an exercise session without stretching and warming up. You might want to develop a stretching routine before you hop on your bike and begin to pedal. If you are a beginner, you might want to begin with ten minutes of stretching, twenty minutes of variable intensity, followed by ten minutes of slow, easy cooldown.
Practice Builds Muscle
As you practice, your muscles will become stronger. As you gain strength, you will be able to extend your exercise time. Set small goals. If you find that you are taxed by ten minutes of riding on your first day, spend a little more time on stretching, or break your exercise time up into shorter sessions. Steady repetition will do more than long, forced marathon sessions, especially in the beginning.
Pay Attention to Your Body
After several weeks of practice, you will find that your body will begin to anticipate your exercise sessions. You will develop a feeling of pleasure and achievement from your efforts. Break your big goals into smaller goals, and forgive yourself if some weeks just go better than others. Exercise is not a linear process, it is made up of zigs and zags, moving forward then falling back a little before progressing on. Your body will tell you when it is time to press harder and when it is time to simply repeat yesterday’s goal.