The indoor bike is an efficient home-exercise tool.
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
If you want to remain healthy, you've got to keep moving. For this reason, many exercisers include cardiovascular workouts in their fitness routines. If you're at home most of the day, or if you prefer to exercise indoors, using the treadmill and the stationary bicycle are two ways to get your cardio fix. You can do a little of each to keep your workouts more interesting.
Get Your Heart Pumping
Exercisers primarily use treadmills and stationary bikes for aerobic workouts. By raising your heart rate, and keeping it elevated throughout your workout, you burn calories to help manage your weight. You also improve your cardiovascular system by strengthening your heart and helping prevent plaque from building in your arteries. Aerobic workouts can also help manage high blood pressure and reduce your risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
Treadmill Exercise Benefits
If walking or running is your preferred form of exercise, then the treadmill is likely your cardio machine of choice. Treadmills offer a year-round opportunity to keep running or walking, even when your favorite outdoor path is covered in ice or snow. Putting a mirror next to the treadmill allows you to monitor your form and correct any flaws. Running or walking on the treadmill is a bit easier than running or walking outdoors, because the treadmill's rotating belt helps move your legs. But you may increase the challenge by raising the treadmill's incline to one percent. Treadmills also let you raise the incline farther to replicate hill climbing.
Indoor Cycling Benefits
Riding a stationary bike is, obviously, the closest you can get to outdoor cycling while remaining indoors. Like the treadmill, you can compensate for the lack of hills and wind by increasing the machine's resistance. Stationary cycling is a non-impact exercise, making it ideal for overweight exercisers or those who want to minimize the stress on their lower bodies. Additionally, exercisers with low-back problems can use recumbent bikes to help support their backs, although upright bikes typically offer a more intense workout with a greater range of motion. If you like to exercise in a group, you'll likely find spinning classes available at most health clubs.
Treadmills Vs. Indoor Bikes
A 2011 report issued by the International Health, Racquet and Sports Club Association found that the treadmill was the most popular piece of gym equipment, used by 44.4 percent of respondents. Upright stationary bikes finished in ninth place at 31.5 percent, while recumbent bikes were 14th at 14 percent. The number of calories you burn on a treadmill or stationary bike depends primarily on how vigorously you exercise. All things being equal, however, the treadmill should slim you down faster than the indoor bicycle. A 2001 study published in "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" found that treadmills burn more calories per minute than any other gym machine.
Use a stationary bike if you prefer a no-impact exercise or have balance problems. Otherwise, the choice between treadmill and stationary bike is mostly a matter of personal preference. Then again, nobody says you can't use both machines. Either way, consult a physician before you start any exercise program.