Indoor vs outdoor cycling: What should be your pick?
By Emily Hagan | Published on Oct 18, 2023
Remember the good old days of childhood when we hopped on our bicycles and rode off to meet friends without a care in the world? Little did we know that cycling was actually helping us stay fit and healthy. Now, as adults, we consciously incorporate cycling into our workout routines because it offers so many benefits.
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However, we often find ourselves in a dilemma: should we opt for indoor or outdoor cycling? This question becomes even more pressing as air quality levels worsen, leaving us concerned about our health. To shed some light on this matter, we reached out to Sheikh Nadir Siddiquee, a highly regarded fitness coach and expert at Advance+ FITTR, Senior Faculty and Head of Placements at INFS.
The Allure of Cycling
Siddiquee emphasizes that whether indoors or outdoors, cycling is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that improves fitness and increases energy expenditure. Both indoor and outdoor cycling have their own benefits and comforts. In fact, they can complement each other and enhance your cycling routine.
But what sets indoor and outdoor cycling apart? Which one should you choose?
The Showdown: Indoor vs Outdoor Cycling
Indoor cycles are designed differently from road or terrain cycles. They offer more resistance when pedaled. “During indoor cycling, you control the intensity at which you pedal. However, with outdoor cycling, you pedal according to the intensity of the terrain,” Siddiquee explains.
According to a study conducted by The American Council on Exercise (ACE), a typical cycling class keeps exercisers at around 75 to 95 percent of their maximum heart rate.
Apart from this, indoor cycling offers the following advantages:
- No need to worry about weather conditions
- Can be done at your own comfort and convenience
- Easy to control and monitor progress
- Improves endurance
- Reduces the risk of falling
- Enhances core stability
On the other hand, outdoor cycling, in addition to providing the same health benefits as indoor cycling, is environment friendly and can be combined with errands or a leisurely weekend ride.
“Depending on where you are cycling, you may encounter extra challenges that require your hip and quad muscles to work harder. Different terrains will push you to exert more effort, leading to increased movement and strength. Both indoor and outdoor cycling engage multiple muscle areas, such as glutes, shins, and calves, and burn significant calories,” explains Siddiquee.
Consider Pollution as well
While outdoor cycling has its own set of health benefits, it is wise to take into account the ongoing pandemic and the rising pollution levels in certain areas.
“Many people who prefer outdoor activities, such as cycling, walking, or running, are experiencing issues like itchy eyes, coughs, headaches, and chest heaviness due to deteriorating air quality,” Siddiquee cautions.
If you are an avid cyclist residing in a city with an Air Quality Index (AQI) over 150, it is advised to reduce your outdoor cycling hours and consider indoor cycling instead. This is because active travel may increase your exposure to air pollution, leading to negative health consequences.
In conclusion, the choice between indoor and outdoor cycling depends on various factors, including personal preferences, availability, and environmental conditions. Both options have their unique advantages, so it’s essential to weigh them against your circumstances and make an informed decision. Remember, staying active and taking care of your health should always be the top priority.