Stationary bikes are excellent training tools when the weather conditions are less than ideal or when the roads are filled with significant hurdles that can be downright dangerous.
The benefits of indoor cycling are endless, from how it aids in weight loss and strengthens body and core muscles to the positive effect it has on your mental health.
But how many miles should you go on a stationary exercise bike to reap its benefits? Let’s find out!
How Many Miles on an Exercise Bike Is a Good Workout?
In general, a good mile time on a stationary bike would be 5-6 minutes. That means, at moderate intensity, you should be able to cover around 6 miles in half an hour.
Yet, to determine the efficiency of your workout, it’d be better to rely on the duration and pace of your exercise rather than the number of miles covered. Also, you need to pinpoint the reason behind your workout, whether it’s to burn calories and lose weight or maintain your weight and overall health.
According to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) recommendations, you need to bike at a moderate pace for 150 minutes per week to enhance your cardiovascular health and retain your weight. That’s equal to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, 5 days per week. If your goal is steady weight loss, you’ll need to exercise for the same amount of time but at high intensity.
A moderate pace on a stationary bike would be 10-12 mph (miles per hour), while a high speed would be 15-20 mph.
That means, to maintain your weight, you’ll need to cover 5-6 miles by the stationary bike on each workout, while you’ll need to cycle for around 10 miles a day to lose weight.
How Long Does It Take To Ride 1 Mile on a Stationary Bike?
A mile in a flat road race takes around 5 minutes, and it’s more or less the same for the stationary bike. Yet, it all depends on the average speed you’re cycling with. For example, if you’re riding a stationary bike at moderate intensity (10-12 mph), your mile time will be 5-6 minutes. Consequently, the overall distance you cover will be:
- 2.5-3 miles in 15 minutes
- 5-6 miles in 30 minutes
- 10-12 miles in one hour
Are 10 Miles in 30 Minutes on a Stationary Bike Good?
Yes, especially if you’re a beginner. Covering 10 miles by a stationary bike in 30 minutes can help pump your heart and work your lungs. It can also help you achieve your weight loss goals.
The number of calories burned on a 10-mile stationary bike exercise can be anything from 400 to 800, depending on your current weight and the average time you took to cover this mileage.
The heavier you are, the more calories you’ll burn at such a distance. For example, a person weighing 140 pounds will burn 420 calories on a 10-mile ride, while a 200-pound individual will shed 600 calories.
On the other hand, 10 miles are nowhere near enough for elite cyclists who train for competitions and long-distance races. Those must cycle at a speed of at least 30-40 mph, meaning they should cover 15-20 miles in half an hour.
Is Riding a Stationary Bike for five Miles Enough to Lose Weight?
Distance isn’t the only determinant of the number of calories burned when it comes to stationary bike exercises.
Five miles would be enough to see changes on the scale if you’re cycling at a speed of 10-14 mph. However, if you ride a stationary bike at a leisurely pace of 5-6 mph, your weight will hardly change after a month. Conversely, riding three miles would be enough if you’re working your legs at a speed of 16-19 mph.
To determine the number of miles you need to cover to lose weight, you must first know how many calories you need to burn.
A sustainable weight loss goal is to lose one to two pounds per week. And you need to burn 3,500 calories to shed one pound of weight.
Now, the average person burns 260 calories when cycling at 12 mph for 30 minutes. That means you need to cycle 6-13 hours per week to shed one to two pounds, which translates to 72-156 miles.
Of course, you won’t need to exercise on the stationary bike that much to lose a couple of pounds if you combine your exercise routine with a calorie-deficit diet and throw in some strength training.
Cycling Mileage vs. Walking Mileage
There is a big difference between walking and cycling, especially when it comes to burning calories and how many miles you need to cover to lose weight.
While walking is an easy weight-bearing exercise, cycling isn’t weight-bearing at all. And therefore, the calories you burn by walking for a mile aren’t equal to those you burn by cycling for the same distance. That’s because it takes less effort to cycle a mile than to walk it.
A one-mile walk at a moderate pace burns 100-120 calories, while one mile by a stationary bike burns 50-60 calories at the same intensity.
However, although walking wins on the calorie scale, the exercise bike is still more beneficial for some people, especially those who suffer from joint pain or other mobility issues. That’s because it poses less impact on the joints as you don’t carry your own weight when you’re cycling.
That also means it’s easier to cover more miles and burn more calories on the stationary bike than by walking since it’s easier on the legs and the joints. So it doesn’t really matter which exercise you choose as long as you’re comfortable with it and ready to commit.
Emma James, 29 years old professional fitness trainer with Bachelor’s degree in Physical Fitness Technician from Boston University.