By Mark Boyle
Cycling is one of the best ways you can get in shape. It is a cardiovascular exercise that can be fun, challenging and should you wish, even competitive. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, cycling is perhaps the best thing you can do to legally get outside the house, keep your distance from others and enjoy the spring sunshine while reaping the exercise rewards. But on the flipside, you may prefer or be required to self-isolate at home, where you can make use of an indoor exercise bike.
PowerGym Fitness, a supplier of high-end commercial gym equipment, have provided some of the benefits for cycling indoors and outdoors as well as some insights into how they compare.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Cycling
To jump straight into the question of whether indoor cycling is better than outdoor cycling or vice versa, there are too many variables at play for a definitive answer. The choice of which is better simply lies with your specific circumstances and what you want to get out of it. As we will explain with the pros and cons of both, a large portion of what makes the best choice can be summarised by your goals. Those looking to get serious about cycling would be better off cycling outdoors, while indoor cycling is best suited for the casual types who prefer a convenient option while still benefiting from an effective workout. At the end of the day, combining the two can be extremely effective in earning the rewards that both will deliver.
Quite clearly one of the biggest differences between the two is the environment. When you cycle outdoors, you will be able to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine while exploring new locations. This certainly beats staring at the same wall in your house for hours on end. It can also keep you motivated to keep cycling, going longer distances and discovering places you’ve not visited before. There are other benefits that come with outdoor cycling involving a boost to your mental health. Cycling outside in positive surroundings can help you feel revitalised and increases your energy. There’s also the opportunity to be more mindful of your surroundings and enjoying the present of everything that’s happening around you.
Can you guess what would be one of the downsides of outdoor cycling for British people? You guessed it, the weather! While we are all locked in our homes, it’s ironic that the weather has recently been as glorious as can be, but it’s well-known that British weather is unpredictable. At times conditions can be extremely miserable, comprising of rain, heavy wind and cold temperatures. Bad weather conditions are not only unpleasant but can lead to hazardous road conditions for cyclists. The perfect conditions are few and far between in the country, so unless you have a carefree attitude, your bicycle may find itself collecting dust in your house more often than not. Whether the weather conditions are solid or poor, there’s also the downside of dealing with inconsiderate motorists and other dangers on the road. However, in light of the COVID-19 situation, the government is encouraging more members of the public to cycle to essential destinations where possible. Local councils have begun to implement pop-up cycle lanes to reduce the amount of people embarking on public transport for journeys.
A key feature of indoor cycling is convenience. You don’t have to worry about external factors such as busy roads or poor weather conditions. You don’t have to worry about mapping out a journey or schedule a cycling session around your day. When you have an indoor exercise bike placed in your home, you just simply need to hop on and begin cycling. It saves you time and worrying, and you don’t even have to get kitted up.
Indoor bikes are stationary which means your core isn’t engaged and you won’t improve your stability or balance as much as outdoor cycling. This may not be ideal for serious cyclists but can keep casual cyclists committed and motivated to stick at it without added strain and pressure. An indoor bike may not offer a full body workout but will still work key muscles and strengthen the cardiovascular system. In a world where people are being told to self-isolate so as to stop the spread of the coronavirus, there may also come a time where an indoor bike is the only cycling option you have available for a temporary amount of time.
You made no mention of rollers. With rollers you don’t have to faff about dismantling anything to fit a turbo or such like trainer. With any bike you just get on the rollers and cycle.
Absolutely outdoors; it’s what cycling is all about. I use a wattbike at work for an hour at lunchtime and hate it but to go out and buy a turbo trainer for the price you can get a decent bike for is insanity. If it’s raining, TS; skin’s waterproof! That’s why the best cyclists are from the North or Wales. Reflecting on this diatribe explains why I’m also quite a bad father!