Which is better: stationary bike or outdoor bike for exercise? I’m a certified personal trainer. Obviously, the stationary bike is the preferred tool when weather interferes with outdoor cycling.
Advantages of stationary bike: Very convenient, can easily fit inside your house somewhere. They are always available at gyms. There is no need to suddenly stop pedaling to negotiate a tricky outdoor path, avoid a car or make some other adjustment due to outdoor surprises.
A stationary cycle allows you to pedal full force for as long as you can without having to back off on effort due to traffic, an approaching speed bump in the road, or some other impeding obstacle.
Of course, with a stationary cycle, there’s no wind in your face or sun to deal with. And, need I point out, you can’t fall on a stationary bike. For obese people, indoor cycling will not present any balance issues.
Despite all these pros of stationary cycling, an outdoor bike offers plenty of advantages.
For starters, there is the scenery. Indoor cycling can get very boring. The scenery changes outdoors constantly. Cycling outdoors up a hill isn’t the same as cycling indoors on a machine at high pedal tension. Thus, if you want a wicked workout, head for the hills on a bicycle outdoors, especially mountain biking type exercise.
Mountain biking adds a whole new dimension to outdoor cycling because if you choose a nasty enough trail, at some point you will be too fatigued to pedal, and will end up walking up the hill, pushing the bike, and this will add to your workout session.
Sometimes a trail is just too steep and unstable to pedal up, and you will have to walk up these hills pushing the bike, or, as some mountain bikers do, carrying the bike across their back: a full body workout combining cardio and a little weight lifting.
A session of outdoor cycling isn’t as easy to quit as a session on a stationary bike. How many times have you decided to spend 30 minutes on a stationary bike, but after 15 minutes, you’re stepping off of it and heading out the gym doors?
Cycling outdoors means that once you make the commitment, it’s easier to stick it out till you are done, especially if you’ve spent 15 minutes pedaling away from home; if you want to quit at that point, you must spend 15 minutes pedaling back: That’s your 30 minutes.
However, a disadvantage of outdoor cycling is that when it’s time to go downhill, you stop exercising by coasting. In order to get the uphill workout, you must give up some of the workout when cruising downhill.
Another disadvantage to outdoor cycling is that in order to really get a rigorous workout, you must find a path where there will be no interruptions such as streets, lights, stop signs, potential traffic (which can include pedestrians and other bikers), street construction, puddles, gravel, etc.
You must also have the right kind of bicycle that will allow you to get a good hard workout when you’re on flat courses.
All in all, the stationary bike and outdoor cycling have advantages and disadvantages, and a lot of that has to do with the kind of equipment you have, and what kinds of paths you have access to.