Are home exercise bikes worth the investment?

Female athlete exercising on an exercise bike indoors.

You’ve seen the ads on television and social media that show a community of cyclists pedaling up a sweat from the comfort of their home.

It’s no wonder that sales have doubled for some stationary bike companies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The popularity of the bikes has attracted people to exercise who may not be interested in other types of activity but have an interest in cycling.

While exercise bikes have been around for decades, the bikes have come a long way when it comes to features and capabilities. Spinning bikes have taken center stage, paired with Bluetooth capability and interactive classes. They are more durable and stable for people who want to stand in the saddle and use a higher resistance. Other bikes can do this too, but spinning bikes are made for this.

Peloton, NordicTrack and Echelon are among the companies that have popular at-home bikes on the market. Price tags are often between $1,000 and $2,000 with additional monthly membership fees. You’ll also want to invest in a mat for the bike to prevent sweat from hitting the floor and prevent the bike from wobbling. Many of the classes include hand weights which aren’t included. Yes, you may need special shoes or at the very least toe cages to attach to the pedal.

If you make the investment, you want to get the most out of it. Here’s how:

  • Do something you enjoy. Some people enjoy the paid programs as it keeps them accountable. Other people put the exercise bike in front of a TV and only watch TV when they are on their bike. I always recommend doing something that you enjoy as you are more likely to keep doing it if you enjoy it. Otherwise your exercise bike risks becoming an overpriced clothes rack. Making it enjoyable is key.
  • Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least 5 times a week. For most adults, the recommendation is to do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise a week which can be divided through the week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your heart rate should be between 64% and 76% of your maximum heart rate. How do you know you’re hitting moderate intensity levels? You’ll be able to talk but not sing the words to a song, according to the CDC. You can monitor your heart rate to make sure you are getting the exertion that you need for aerobic exercise.

But it’s also important to incorporate two days of muscle training a week. You’ll have to look beyond a bike to fulfill that recommendation. It really depends on your goals, but if you just want to exercise to stay healthy and stay in shape, any kind of exercise will work. You can get aerobic activity with a bike as well as with an elliptical, running, walking, swimming, dancing or exercise classes. Cross training tends to be a little better on your body so mixing it up is never a bad idea.

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