13 Reasons to Pick Up Indoor Cycling As Your Next Workout
Your bones, brain, and body will benefit.
By Karla Walsh•
Many of us find our way to the saddle for different reasons, whether it’s the convenience of having a Peloton Bike at home, the desire to build cardiovascular endurance, or you’re looking for the mind and body benefits of a new workout. Regardless of your main motivations, you’ll be accruing a whole host of other wellness wins each time you ride.
Peloton instructor Ally Love confirms that “with its array of physical, mental and emotional benefits, indoor cycling has become a powerful tool for personal transformation.”
She’s experienced many of the benefits of indoor cycling first-hand in her seven years as an instructor and her rides before that.
Ahead, discover why indoor cycling is one of the best investments you can make in supporting your muscles, mind, and overall well-being.
Indoor Cycling is Efficient
Lack of time is cited time and time again as a consistent barrier to meeting that mark, and indoor cycling—especially when done at home—is one of the best ways to beat the odds. With no commute required, you can roll out of bed and onto the seat in a matter of minutes…and in whatever outfit you like.
“Everyone's fitness journey is different, but in the fast-paced world we live in, finding an exercise routine that is both effective and enjoyable is key,” Ally says. “I'm here to ride with you when you're ready!”
It’s Ideal For Beginners
Another benefit of indoor cycling is that in comparison to many weightlifting programs or long-distance running races, it’s very scalable for those who are new to exercise or coming back to it after a break. Pedal at your own pace, control your own resistance, and sit when you like. (Psst: Even if you’re not quite used to the feeling of a bike seat, you’ll get used to it over time—and in the meantime, a pair of padded shorts can help.)
If you don’t fall in love with indoor cycling immediately, try, try again, Ally suggests: “I encourage you to try something at least three times before you make any long-term decisions on what you should include in your diverse fitness portfolio.”
It’s Low-Impact Yet High-Intensity
Whether you’re freshly back into fitness, are recovering from an injury, or are among the 24 percent of all adults with arthritis, if your doctor has cleared you for exercise, indoor cycling is a wise option because it’s gentle on your joints.
“The fluid motion of pedaling minimizes the risk of injury, making it an ideal choice for individuals with joint issues or those recovering from injuries,” Ally says. “In my classes, I encourage Members to take care of their bodies and embrace the joy of movement without compromising their well-being.”
That doesn’t mean it can’t be challenging, though. Cycling classes can also be high-intensity (take Peloton’s HIIT Rides, Intervals & Arms Rides, HIIT & Hills Rides, and Tababta Rides, for instance). If you’re ready to push yourself, it’s a great activity to scale up or down based on what you need that day.
You Might Become a Faster Runner
Research suggests that cross-training is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of injury. Plus, mixing things up allows your body time to recover from those different activities between sessions and keeps your brain engaged so you’re less tempted to skip.
Your fitness levels can improve overall as well, especially if you pair cycling with running. This dynamic duo has been shown to amp up your cardio, endurance, and strength levels so you may be able to run faster and with better form.
Your Outdoor Rides May Feel Easier
Speaking of different modes of exercise, if you enjoy al fresco rides, indoor cycling will be a boon to your overall routine. In addition to making it possible to keep your training program going amidst anything Mother Nature throws your way, the wide variety of indoor cycling class styles allows you to prep for success for whatever outdoor ride goals you have on the horizon.
From longer endurance rides to shorter sprints and HIIT classes, indoor cycling will have you ready to conquer long distances and steep hills the next time you hit the road.
You’ll Build Muscle Strength
True, indoor cycling counts toward your overall cardio tally (if you’re keeping track to try to reach that 150 minutes!). But it’s not just about the aerobic factor; indoor cycling also delivers impressive strength-building benefits, Ally confirms.
“The resistance levels on indoor bikes allow you to tailor the intensity to your fitness level, challenging your muscles and promoting strength development,” she says.
Science backs this up: No matter what your age, cycling has been shown to increase muscular strength and hypertrophy, or an increase in muscle size.
Your Bones Might Get Stronger, Too
Regardless of your age, skeletal strength needs to start as soon as possible to keep your bones bolstered throughout your lifetime. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women and about one in every four men will break a bone at some point due to osteoporosis, a condition related to a decrease in bone strength and bone mineral density.
In tandem with strength training two to three times per week, research suggests that three weekly indoor cycling classes may help increase bone density in the arms, legs, pelvis, and spine.
Indoor cycling has also been proven to support balance, which can trim the risk of trips and keep those bones safe all at once. (Who among us isn’t a little clumsy now and then!?)
You May Reduce the Risk for Heart Disease
The fact that it’s deemed a “cardiovascular workout” is a clue that indoor cycling contributes to cardiovascular (heart) health.
“Indoor cycling is a rhythmic and dynamic cardiovascular workout that engages the entire body. By pedaling to the beat, you elevate your heart rate and strengthen your cardiovascular system. Regular cycling sessions can improve endurance, boost circulation, and enhance overall heart health,” Ally says.
You’ll Torch Calories
Your Peloton Bike Metrics make this indoor cycling benefit clear. As you crank up the watts, aka your overall power exertion level, you’ll crank up the calorie burn. (BTW, if you’d prefer not to see this metric, you can hide it!)
“Indoor cycling, especially Peloton, is a highly effective calorie-burning activity. A vigorous Ride can burn a significant number of calories, making it an efficient way to support weight loss or maintain a healthy weight,” Ally says. “The exact calorie burn will depend on factors such as your weight, intensity of the workout, and duration of the session.”
Your Peloton Bike output will estimate your individual calorie burn. As a rough guide, Harvard Medical School experts say that a 155-pound adult will burn about 275 calories during a vigorous 30-minute class, which is what you might experience during class styles like Power Zone training, Interval class, and Climb classes.
It Will Improve Your Aerobic Capacity
Since indoor cycling challenges the MVP muscle that is your heart, this form of exercise aids your aerobic capacity. Just two to three 30-minute or more indoor cycling sessions per week for 12 weeks has been linked to 8 to 10.5 percent higher VO₂ max (a measure that’s generally regarded as the best measure of aerobic fitness). Translation: Within about 3 months of regular cycling, you might be able to absorb and utilize about 9 percent more oxygen during each and every sweat session. The more oxygen you can consume, the more oxygen you’ll muscles will be able to score and use to pedal longer and stronger.
You Can Personalize Your Ride
On days when you’re not feeling like pushing to the limit, indoor cycling is one of your best exercise bets.
“One of the greatest strengths of indoor cycling is its versatility and accessibility,” Ally says. “You can customize your intensity by adjusting the resistance on the bike, increasing or decreasing your pedaling speed, and modifying the duration of your session to match your fitness level and goals.”
By way of example, Peloton’s cycling classes range in duration from 10 to 90 minutes, and with on-demand classes you can ride whenever and for however long works for your schedule.
“This flexibility makes it suitable for beginners and advanced exercisers alike,” Love adds.
Community Can Help Keep You Accountable
Tempted to throw in the towel and skip? Having Peloton’s Leaderboard—as well as a supportive instructor and a group full of fellow riders from around the world—offers extra motivation to stick to your indoor cycling training schedule.
“Indoor cycling classes foster a sense of community and provide motivation through collective energy and shared goals. Exercising in a group setting with an instructor can push you to new limits, amplify your performance, and create lifelong friendships all at once. Most importantly, group classes like Peloton keep you accountable to reach your fitness goals, in the most fun way,” Ally says.
When people feel like they’re part of a group, they’re proven to leave the workout feeling like they were able to work harder, had more fun, and had a brighter mood than if they sweat solo.
You May Notice Less Stress and a Brighter Mood
The benefits of indoor cycling go far beyond the physical.
“Exercise, including indoor cycling, has a profound impact on mental and emotional well-being. Cycling releases endorphins, the body's natural mood enhancers, which can alleviate stress, reduce anxiety and decrease symptoms of depression,” Ally explains.
Rocking your ride also boosts self-efficacy, or your personal belief that you can accomplish a task. This positive mindset doesn’t stop when you unclip from the bike, Ally adds. Self-efficacy gained during a ride can roll over into other aspects of life and “help you overcome challenges and unlock your true potential,” she says.
Every rider comes to indoor cycling with different goals and motivations, but chances are high that you’ll accrue even more benefits than you anticipated, and those health benefits start with the very first ride.
“Indoor cycling has become a transformative force in the world of fitness. Its wide range of benefits—including cardiovascular health, strength building, low-impact intensity, mental and emotional well-being, personalization and community—have made it a favorite among fitness enthusiasts,” Ally says, and make it one of the best exercise options for your mood, muscles, and beyond.