Cycling on a stationary bike can be a great way to start your day and ensure you stay in shape. It can also help you meet specific weight loss goals. After calculating how many calories you need to lose, you can work out how many miles to put in each workout session.
The actual miles you should cycle depends on your weight and cycling intensity. For example, you should cycle 15 miles (24 km) a day on a stationary bike to lose a pound in one week if you weigh 125 lbs (57 kg). By doing this, you will lose about 500 calories a day. After seven days, you will lose 3,500 calories.
Read on to learn how to optimize your stationary bike workout to meet your weight loss goals. I’ll also discuss how cycling intensity and weight affect the pounds you lose while working out. Finally, I’ll compare working out on a stationary bike versus cycling on a bicycle.
What It Means To Cycle Fifteen Miles on a Stationary Bike
If your bike can automatically measure distance, it’s easy to know when you have cycled fifteen miles (24 km). All you have to do is check the counter on the monitor.
It should take the average person about 75 minutes of moderate cycling to cycle 15 miles (24 km) on a stationary bike. If a 40-something man like me can do it comfortably, you can too.
You can use the speedometer on your bike to measure your cycling speed. If you’re cycling at 15 mph (24 kph), it will take you an hour to cycle 15 miles.
You Can Use Your Bike To Automatically Measure Distance
Using a modern stationary bike, you can easily use the monitor to determine how many miles you have cycled. Modern bikes use your cadence (i.e., how fast you’re cycling) to calculate the distance you’d cover if you’re moving instead of cycling on the spot.
To cycle 15 miles (24 km), you can input that as your target on the bike monitor. Once you start cycling, the number of miles displayed on the screen will begin counting down from 15. You just have to cycle until the counter gets to zero.
Sound easy? It is! All you need to do is put in the effort and your bike makes all the measurements.
What if Your Bike Doesn’t Automatically Calculate Distance?
Some modern stationary bikes automatically calculate distance, speed, and time. They even measure your heart rate and use it to calculate the number of calories you burned in a single session.
However, your bike may not have all those fancy features. If you work out in a public gym, their bikes may not have the ability to measure distance either.
That said, as long as your bike has a speedometer, you can get a pretty good estimate of the distance you’ve covered while cycling on the bike.
You can use the two methods below to calculate distance.
Use Your Phone’s Calculator and a Stopwatch
First, you have to measure the time you’ve spent on the stationary bike. You can do this with an old-fashioned stopwatch or the stopwatch feature in your mobile phone’s clock app. You also have to use the bike’s speedometer to get the speed you’ve been cycling at.
Once you have the two values (speed and time), multiplying them will give you the distance you’ve “traveled.” For example, if your speed was 15 mph (24 kph) and you cycled for 30 minutes, 15 mph times 0.5 hours gives you 7.5 miles (12 kph). This method might feel a little tedious, especially if you’re used to things happening automatically.
At any rate, you have to maintain a constant speed while pedaling. Otherwise, your calculations won’t be accurate.
While manual calculation isn’t ideal, it works. If your bike only has a speedometer, it may be the only way to know what distance you’re covering.
You’d have to maintain a speedometer value of 15 mph for one hour to cover fifteen miles.
Use an Online Exercise Bike Distance Calculator
A calculator like the one on BizCalcs allows you to compute the distance you’ve cycled. You have to plug in the duration and the speed. The site will then output the distance. One advantage of using these sites is that you don’t have to convert minutes into hours. For example, if you cycle for 44 minutes, you can just input that directly.
Then, you copy the measurements from your stopwatch and the speed monitor on your bike.
Having a Modern Stationary Bike Is More Convenient
If you’re serious about losing weight through cycling, you’re better off investing in a modern stationary bike, preferably one that can directly measure the calories you burn. That way, you don’t have to do any calculations at all. Conducting manual calculations every time you work out can affect your ability to focus on what you’re supposed to do — namely, working out.
By itself, consistent exercise is already hard enough without introducing complications like stopwatches and calculators.
With a modern bike, you can simply set the target of how many calories you want to burn. As you pedal, the screen will show you how many calories you have left. I find this both convenient and great for motivation.
This Sunny Synergy Exercise Cycling Bike on Amazon.com makes a great partner for working towards your fitness goals. As long as you place your hands at the designated spots when cycling, it can measure your heart rate. It also calculates how many calories you’ve burned. With this bike, all you have to do is set the target calorie count of 500 and cycle until it counts down to 0.
You can repeat that process the next day. By the end of the week, you’ll be certain that you used up 3,500 calories using your stationary bike.
Why You Need To Cover Fifteen Miles To Lose a Pound
If you weigh 125 pounds (57 kg), you’ll burn 420 calories with a one-hour moderate workout on a stationary bike. Moderate means you’re cycling at about 12 mph (19 kph). The distance you’ll have covered during that workout is 12 miles (19 km).
If you only cover 12 miles (19 km), you’ll be 80 calories short of the 500 calories-a-day target. You need to create a calorie deficit of 3500 calories to lose a pound. If you intend to do that within a week, you need to lose 500 calories within each of the seven days. Otherwise, you’ll have to make up for the deficit during the remainder of the week.
Since you burn 420 calories by cycling 12 miles (19 km) you burn 35 calories for each mile you cover.
Therefore, if you cover 15 miles (24 km), you’ll burn 525 calories (15 miles times 35 calories). That is well over the 500-calorie target. I’d personally rather go over my mark than not meet it.
You could probably get away with covering 14 miles (23 km). In that case, you’d lose 490 calories (14 miles times 35 calories).
People With Different Weight Burn Calories Differently
Covering fifteen miles to lose 500 calories a day works if you’re around 125 pounds (57 kg). As a general rule, the more you weigh, the more calories you can burn for doing the same activity as someone who weighs less.
Let me put this in perspective with the table below, which shows how many calories people with different weights burn with the same activity.
|125 pounds (57 kg)||155 pounds (70 kg)||185 pounds (84 kg)|
The heavier you are, the more calories you lose for every mile you work out. This is because it takes more calories to power a heavier body.
If you weigh 155 pounds (70 kg), you can hit the daily target by working out for one hour. Someone who weighs 125 pounds (57 kg) has to exercise for 15 minutes more to lose the same amount of calories.
If you weigh 185 pounds (85 kg), you can hit the daily target within 51 minutes. Basically, the heavier you are, the less time it takes to burn a set amount of calories.
The table below shows how many miles people with different weights have to cover to lose a pound in one week.
|Weight||Number of miles a day to lose a pound in 7 days||Workout duration|
|125 pounds (57 kg)||15 miles (24 km)||1hr 15 minutes|
|155 pounds (70 kg)||12 miles (19 km)||1hr|
|185 pounds (84 kg)||10 miles (16 km)||40 minutes|
Depending on how much you weigh, you can use the table above to estimate the miles you need to cover and the duration of your workout.
Workout Intensity Affects the Calories You Burn
The more intense your workout, the more calories you burn. This makes sense as it takes more effort and energy to cycle faster, especially for a longer period. If you want to reduce the time you should dedicate every day to lose a pound in a week, consider increasing the intensity of your workout. You can do this by raising your cadence or how fast you pedal.
A person who weighs 125 pounds (57 kg) will lose 210 calories in a moderate, 30-minute workout. The same person will lose 315 calories in a vigorous workout within the same time frame.
Here’s a table showing how workout efficiency changes as people with different weights increase the intensity of their workout.
|30-Minute Moderate Exercise on Stationary Bike||30-Minute Vigorous Exercise on Stationary Bike|
|125-pound person (57 kg)||210 calories||315 calories|
|155-pound person (70 kg)||252 calories||378 calories|
|185-pound person (84 kg)||294 calories||441 calories|
You’ll see that multiplying the calories lost during moderate exercise by 1.5 gives you the value of the calories lost during vigorous exercise.
The Difference Between Moderate and Vigorous Exercise
Switching from moderate to vigorous exercise can help you burn 1.5 times more calories. You use more energy. At the same time, you need higher fitness levels to sustain vigorous activity for a long time.
But how do you know whether exercise is moderate or vigorous?
The Talking and Singing Test
A crude way to distinguish between moderate and vigorous cycling is to consider how difficult it is to talk during the workout. If your heart rate and breathing rate are faster than usual, but you still find it easy to talk, you’re doing light to moderate exercise. If you can sing while working out, you’re still doing moderate exercise.
The higher the intensity of your exercise, the harder it is to talk.
You’re doing vigorous exercise if you find it difficult to say more than a few words at a time. When exercising vigorously, you can’t sing, and you might struggle to say even one word clearly.
The Serious, Scientific Way To Differentiate Between Moderate and Vigorous Exercise
Scientifically, the difference between moderate and vigorous exercise is indicated by how much more energy you spend exercising than when you’re sitting or standing.
While doing moderate exercise, you’ll use 3 – 6 times your average resting energy. Resting energy is the number of calories you expend when seated or standing. While doing vigorous exercise, you’ll use more than six times your resting energy.
Cycling is considered moderate exercise when you’re doing it at 10 – 12 mph (16 – 19 kph). It’s considered vigorous exercise when cycling at 14 – 16 mph (23 – 26 kph).
As such, the answer to “How many miles should you cover every day to lose a pound on a stationary bike?” changes when we’re talking about vigorous exercise. I’ll use a table to illustrate that.
|How many miles a day on a stationary bike to lose a pound with moderate exercise (12 mph / 19 kph)||How many miles a day on a stationary bike to lose a pound with vigorous exercise (16 mph / 26 kph)|
|125 pounds (57 kg)||15 miles (24 km) – 1 hr 15 minutes||9.5 miles (15 km) – 35 minutes|
|155 pounds (70 kg)||12 miles (19 km) – 1 hr||8 miles (13 km) – 30 minutes|
|185 pounds (84 kg)||10 miles (16 km) – 40 minutes||7 miles (11 km) – 26 minutes|
It might be tempting to go the vigorous-exercise way, especially if you’re trying to make the most of your time. However, you should note that sustaining vigorous cycling for up to half an hour can be challenging, especially if you’re not in tip-top shape.
Nutrition Is Crucial for Success
To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. When you do, your body will use reserved energy stored as fat, which will help you lose weight and get that sculpted body.
Exercising on your stationary bike according to the principles laid out in this article will create a deficit of 500 calories per day. You do it consistently, and you’ll have lost one pound (roughly 0.5 kg) at the end of a week. It wouldn’t be productive if you exercised and created that calorie deficit only to fill it with food instead of burned fat.
Let’s say you start the workout regimen today. You’ll have a calorie deficit of 500. Apart from the energy you expend during exercise, your body uses a certain amount of energy to fuel the other activities you do during the day.
You Might Need the Help of a Nutritionist
If the amount of calories you consume through food is greater than the amount you use in the day’s activities by 500, you won’t have lost any fat at the end of the day. To lose the 500 calories you initially targeted, your calorie intake needs to equal your calorie expenditure.
Because you spent an additional 500 calories in the morning, your body will burn 500 calories worth of fat, and you’ll end up losing fat and being on track to losing a pound after seven days.
It gets even trickier!
Why You Might Be Exercising Faithfully Without Noticeable Weight Loss
Thanks to this article, you now know how many calories you use in your exercise session. But you don’t know how many calories your food has. For the best results, you should consult a nutritionist. They’ll help you devise a meal plan so you don’t sabotage the gains you make with exercise.
Otherwise, there’s a significant chance you’ll join that unfortunate club of people who complain about how they’ve been exercising faithfully but not seeing results.
If you can’t get in touch with a nutritionist, you can still be mindful of what you eat. It’ll help a great deal.
At the end of the day, weight loss is all about balancing a mathematical equation that has energy intake on one hand and energy usage on the other.
It seems like your math teacher has the last laugh after all.
Frequently Asked Questions About Biking as a Form of Exercise
Biking can be a lot of fun. But if you’re using it for objectives other than leisure, there are many things you have to consider. Otherwise, whatever you’re doing might not be effective, even though it looks like it’s working at first glance.
Below are answers to questions like, “How many miles can the average person bike in an hour?”
How Many Miles Can You Bike in an Hour?
In my experience, one of the obstacles to aiming for new heights is wondering whether I’m pushing myself too far. After all, if you obstinately push against your limits, you might seriously injure yourself, and no cyclist wants to go through that painful divorce from their bike.
You can bike 16 miles (26 km) in an hour when cycling vigorously and 12 miles (19 km) when cycling moderately. Apart from your effort, your speed is determined by factors such as wind, elevation, and the type of bike you are using.
Cycling against the wind reduces your speed. So does cycling in places with high elevation, such as hilly areas, or when cycling up a mountain.
Cycling in a flat area in the direction of the wind makes it easier to achieve maximum speed.
Also, cycling on a carbon fiber bike increases your speed compared to cycling on bikes made of heavy materials.
Keep in mind that sustaining a vigorous cycling pace is challenging, all the more if you’re not a professional cyclist.
When I started biking, the question, “How many miles should I bike a day?” was a recurring one, and it was a long time before I found the answer. With time, I discovered that a good workout depends on your goals. And if fitness is one of them, factoring calories into the equation is an excellent way to know which direction to take.
How Many Miles on a Bike Is a Good Workout?
If you’re using your bike to stay fit, it can be challenging to gauge the efficiency of your efforts. It can help to learn from other cyclists in the same boat as you. But an even better way is to factor in the number of calories you want to burn in your workout.
12 to 16 miles (19 – 26 km) on a bike is a good daily workout. It takes about an hour, and you can easily fit that into your schedule. Also, it helps you lose between 420 and 880 calories, depending on your weight and the workout intensity.
For the best results, consider mixing up the pace when you’re cycling. Short intervals of intense cycling followed by periods of recovery are more effective at burning calories, increasing biking ability, and boosting weight loss.
Also, remember that if training your body is one of your objectives, it’s essential never to get comfortable while cycling. When you feel that your current routine has gotten easy, you should switch it up.
The essence of exercise is struggle. Our body develops when we push it to do things it couldn’t do yesterday.
How Long To Bike 12 Miles?
It should take the average person about one hour to bike 12 miles (19 km) when riding at 12 mph (19 kph). This is an average speed and is considered moderate exercise. It should be easy to maintain for one hour if you have some cycling experience under your belt.
Cycling around fifteen miles a day on a stationary bike will help you lose a pound in a week. To meet your goal, you have to lose 3,500 calories in seven days, and cycling 15 miles every day will help you do that.
However, failing to consider your food intake can foil your weight loss plans.
The essence of exercise for weight loss is to create a calorie deficit that the body fills by burning fat. If your food intake is high to the point that exercise doesn’t create a deficit, you won’t see any results.