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Riding a stationary exercise bike can be an effective way to boost cardiovascular health and reduce body fat. It is also a safe and convenient alternative to road cycling.
This article looks at the benefits and risks of stationary exercise bikes, what to look for when purchasing a new one, and five of the best cheap exercise bikes available to buy online.
One 2019 systematic review of indoor cycling suggests that regular use of an exercise bike has several positive health benefits.
The sections below will look at these benefits in more detail.
Burns body fat
Exercise bikes allow people to work out at a high intensity, thereby burning calories, reducing body fat, and building lean muscle mass.
In fact, a 30-minute vigorous workout on an exercise bike can burn between 315 and 466 calories, depending on a person’s body weight.
Cardio workouts can help boost the flow of blood and oxygen through the body. This can have several health benefits, such as a stronger immune system, reduced blood pressure, improved mood, and more energy.
Working out at a high intensity for short intervals, also known as internal training, can also help boost fitness.
Provides low impact workouts
Unlike running and several other high impact aerobic exercises, cycling does not put undue stress on the joints.
For this reason, it is ideal for people with joint injuries or underlying joint problems, such as arthritis.
Is safe, convenient, and cost effective
Indoor cycling can be more convenient and safer than outdoor cycling. Indeed, with no traffic or pedestrians to consider, no risk of collisions and no adverse weather conditions to contend with, it can be much safer than road cycling.
People with limited space may prefer the convenience of a folding exercise bike, which makes it easier to store when not in use.
With prices starting at under $200, an exercise bike can also be much cheaper than a gym membership.
However, even indoor cycling does not come without risks. For example, it is possible to develop knee pain if the saddle is too low or too far forward. Pedaling in too hard a gear may also strain or inflame the knee joint.
Also, putting too much weight on the hands instead of the lower body can sometimes result in numb hands and wrists, which is known as handlebar palsy. Bringing the handlebars up will help take this extra weight off the wrists and hands. This may also help relieve low back pain.
Some previous studies suggest that frequent cycling could lead to erectile dysfunction. However, one 2018 study of thousands of cyclists, swimmers, and runners found no evidence to suggest that cyclists are at more risk of experiencing any sexual or urinary problems.
The following sections will look at these in more detail.
Design and display
People who wish to use an exercise bike should consider where they will store it when it is not in use. It may be preferable to opt for a folding bike that will fit inside a cupboard or closet. Look for bikes that have adjustable seats and handlebars to provide optimal fit.
Having a clear display with easy-to-use controls will also help make the most of any workout. Look for details such as time, distance traveled, speed, calories burned, revolutions per minute, and heart rate or pulse monitors.
Look for nonslip pedals and a medium-to-low center of gravity to help with stability. Some cheaper models tend to have a higher center of gravity, which may feel unstable when training at a high intensity.
Also, consider the maximum weight the bike supports.
Both manual and electric bikes should come with a good range of resistance levels. Electric bikes may also come with a range of fitness programs that users can adjust to suit their fitness levels, age, weight, or sex.
Considering what is important to one’s fitness routine and requirements will help.
Not all machines at the lower end of the price range will come with heart or pulse monitoring controls. If a chosen model does not have these features, it may be worth purchasing a separate fitness tracker with a built-in heart monitor.
Here are five affordable exercise bike options available for purchase.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried any of these products. All information presented here is purely research-based.
XTERRA Fitness FB150 Folding Exercise Bike
This bike is ideal for those limited by space, folding up to roughly 18 inches (in) by 18 in when not in use.
A larger seat allows comfort and stability, while a small LCD display provides distance, speed, time, calories burned, and pulse information.
It has eight levels of manual resistance, which users can control through a tension knob located below the handlebars.
The bike is suitable for users weighing up to 225 pounds (lb).
ECHANFIT Indoor Exercise Bike
This magnetic spinning bike can hold up to 250 lb. A silent belt drive system makes it a quieter option than many in the cheaper price bracket.
Users can adjust the seat’s height up and down as well as forward and back, and the handlebar height is also adjustable.
A digital monitor provides information on time, speed, distance, and calories burned. It also features a smartphone holder.
Marcy Upright Exercise Bike
This magnetic exercise bike can hold up to 300 lb. With an inseam height of 26–34 in, it may be a good option for taller people.
A display monitor shows time, speed, distance, and calories burned. It does not have a pulse sensor, so users who wish to record this information will likely need to purchase an additional device.
Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike with Pulse
People can put this magnetic exercise bike away when it is not in use, as it folds to 22 in by 20 in.
It supports users weighing up to 300 lb and can accommodate people from 5 feet (ft) 3 in to 6 ft 1 in. The LCD display gives information on calories burned, time, speed, and pulse, with contact sensors located in the handlebars.
Users can choose from eight levels of resistance using a large dial knob.
VIGBODY Exercise Bike
This exercise bike can support weights of up to 330 lb, making it the most stable option in this list.
The handlebars can move up or down, and users can adjust the seat in height as well as forward and back.
A multifunctional display shows time, speed, distance, and calories burned, and it comes with a free 12-month parts replacement.
Those looking for an alternative to stationary exercise bikes that also provides a good cardio workout with low impact on the joints may prefer to try an elliptical or a rowing machine. Both are available as home workout equipment.
Alternative activities that do not require home equipment but have similar health benefits include swimming and shadowboxing.
Stationary exercise bikes are an effective and convenient way of improving cardio fitness and reducing fat while minimizing any impact on the joints.
People looking for a new exercise bike should consider their own fitness levels alongside the product’s design, stability, and ability to set resistance levels.
There are a range of cheap exercise bikes available to buy online.
Users who do not wish to cycle indoors but enjoy working out at home may prefer to purchase a rowing machine or an elliptical. These can also provide an effective cardio workout that reduces body fat.