Stationary Bike Vs Outdoor Riding

You love the burn in the thighs and the elevated mood from working out on your stationary bike, but are starting to feel bored and are losing your motivation to keep using it for your daily exercise?

Why not try riding a real bike outdoors? Not only will you be getting the health and fitness benefits, but you can enjoy riding with friends, you can actually use your bike to get from one point to another, and you can even save money if you decide to cycle to work or school instead of driving or using public transportation.

There are various reasons why you should consider getting off the stationary bike and hopping on a real one.

Let’s take a look at the advantages of cycling and outdoor riding

1. The Cardio


Whether you are aiming at losing those few extra pounds, or to strengthen your muscles, cardio is an essential part of any exercise regimen. It is the first essential step for a good full body workout which will help warm up your body, increase your fitness level and will get you into the mood for exercising.

One of the most preferred cardio exercises is riding a stationary or exercise bike. These have the option for resistance adjustment, but you can surely get the same or better exercise by riding a road or a mountain bike, especially on different terrains or when cycling uphill or against the wind.

2. The Impact

While stationary bikes are superb for cardio and for strengthening the muscles, joints, and bones of the legs, they do not provide an opportunity for you to work on your upper body. This means that after you are done with the exercise bike in the gym you will have to proceed with other exercises in order to get the other parts of your body engaged as well.

With a real bike, you will get the chance to include your upper body in the exercise rather than just focusing on the thighs and buttocks. While your legs will still get the most exercise, when you ride outdoors you will need to use your upper body as well in order to streamline and balance yourself. Also, when riding intensively, you will need to stand up and sit again in order to accelerate or slow down. This means that you will move more, burn more calories, and engage more parts of your body – arms, core, and back included.

3. The Monotony

Everyone who rides a stationary bike at home or at the gym knows that it can get incredibly boring at some point. This can lead to you feeling much more exhausted faster than you would if you are riding outdoors, and thus exercise less. Often people start to dislike and avoid indoor cycling altogether due to this monotony.

With outdoor cycling, the story is completely different. You will need to stay engaged when you are riding outside, no matter whether you are on the road or in the mountain, in order to stay safe. Also, you can enjoy the view, and enjoy the fun from riding with friends, as well as the satisfaction of reaching to the destination which you have set as a goal.

4. The Comfort of the Seat


There is nothing quite like coming back from the gym and not being able to sit down due to the burning pain in the buttocks and inner thighs. This is due to the fact that most exercise bikes come with standard small seats, which after extended riding can cause pain in the backside, discomfort, and soreness in the lower back.
With a real bike, you have the luxury of choosing the seat which you find the most comfortable and which fits your riding style and body type. In other words, it is much easier and cheaper to customize a regular bike than a stationary one.

5. The Settings

While riding in the gym can help build your strength speed and endurance, riding in outdoor conditions and on different terrains does a much better job, especially if you are training for a triathlon or for a race. By riding in different weather conditions, rain, wind, sun, cold or heat and by covering different terrains with your outdoor bike you will improve your adjustability and endurance much faster than if you stick to cycling indoors.

6. The Cost

In the long run, a stationary exercise bike will cost you more than investing in a regular road or mountain bike. Even though you will pay only a few hundred dollars for an indoor bike, you will most probably need to invest in maintenance and accessories, such as stabilizing mechanisms, monitoring devices or software, which can add up to quite a serious sum.

If you choose to buy a standard real bike, you will have to pay a few hundred dollars and buy an odometer if you want to monitor your performance and stats. And that’s it.

If you ride a stationary bike in a gym, think about the money you will be spending for your gym card or exercise classes, and how much savings you can make if you simply choose to ride an outdoor bike instead.

7. The Environmental Impact

Real bikes do not emit any harmful emissions. All you will be releasing into the air is the CO2 you will be breathing out as you ride. On the other hand, stationary bikes do use some type of additional energy in most cases. They may need to be plugged in or they may use batteries, which means that your CO2 footprint from cycling will be much larger, and thus your negative impact on the environment.

The cons of riding real bikes

Of course, in order to be objective, we need to examine the cons of riding an outdoor bike when compared to a stationary one.

Here are some of the major setbacks to consider:

  • You may face a problem with motivation without the crowd of other indoor cyclists in the gym when riding alone outdoor.
  • Some average enthusiasts find it difficult to stay motivated to keep riding as bad weather approaches.
  • In order to get a workout with the same intensity and resistance when riding outdoors, you may need to ride on difficult terrains and tracks, which can require technical skills which not everybody has.
  • You will need to think about special clothing when the weather is bad if you choose to ride outdoors.

As you can see, there is no clear-cut answer to choosing between indoor and outdoor cycling, and even though outdoor riding can be pure fun and has some serious advantages, the choice between the two depends solely on your personal preferences.

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