Greater intensity burns more calories.
The stationary cycle may not be the most popular kid on the gym floor, but it can be a good buddy if your goal is to do a cardio workout. You can adjust the intensity of your workout to meet your fitness needs, which means beginners and gym rats can both get a solid session. If your intention is to stimulate a big calorie burn, you can achieve that too on a stationary cycle, but you'll have to pedal intensely for the full 30 minutes to make it as effective as other cardio activities.
Calories burned while using a stationary bike vary based on body weight, length of the workout and your level of intensity.
Know the Numbers
A 130-pound person burns approximately 162 calories per half hour pedaling at a light intensity on the stationary bike, while a moderate intensity sizzles 206. If you put almost no resistance on the machine, that same person will burn just 88 calories in the same amount of time. If you push at a vigorous to very vigorous intensity, you could burn between 310 to 369 calories in 30 minutes.
Consider Your Size
You burn a greater number of calories on the bike the more you weigh, because your body needs to fuel a larger engine so to speak. For example, a 155-pound person burns 246 calories during 30 minutes biking at moderate intensity while a 205-pound person burns 325. With vigorous effort, the 205-pound person can burn 488 calories while the 155-pound person burns 369.
Try a Class
Stationary cycles come in the motorized versions you see out on the gym floor and also in a weighted-flywheel versions that you encounter in indoor group cycling classes. The website "Spinning" says you could burn between 400 and 600 calories in a typical 40-minute class. If you stay for just three-quarters of it, or 30 minutes, you can expect to burn between 300 and 450 calories.
Compare with Other Activities
The stationary bike provides a good calorie burn and cardio challenge when you push your intensity. In the same 30 minutes, a run at 5 mph burns 236 calories in a 130-pound person, which is less than a vigorous-intensity session on the bike. Once she speeds up on the run, however, she will burn more calories. For example, a 130-pound person running at 8 mph burns 398 calories in a half hour, but she will experience greater impact on her joints. Running at this speed also requires a high level of skill and fitness. When compared to other low-impact exercises, such as swimming, riding a stationary bike is comparable in terms of calorie burn. A 30-minute session of slow freestyle laps burns 206 calories in a 130-pound person, while a brisk 4.5 mph walk burns 186.