Indoor vs outdoor cycling: What should be your pick?

Published on: 4 December 2021, 08:00 am IST

Cycling is a great exercise, but which form of cycling is good for you — indoor or outdoor? An expert tells us more.

cycling
Cycling can make your knee problems worse. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Listen to this article

Cycling really brings with it a dose of nostalgia. When we were little, we would step out with our cycles and catch up with friends every evening. At that point, not once did we realise how it helped us to exercise. On the contrary, we make conscious efforts to include cycling as part of our workout routine. Because it offers SO many benefits! 

While all that is great, we are often in a dilemma: what should we go for? Indoor or outdoor cycling? This is a burning question, especially at a time when the air quality levels are worsening by the day, making us very scared for our health. To understand this better, HealthShots got in touch with Sheikh Nadir Siddiquee, Advance+ FITTR Coach, Senior Faculty and Head of Placements, INFS. 

indoor vs outdoor cycling
Give cycling a shot. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The charm of cycling

To begin with, Siddiquee says that whether indoors or outdoors, cycling is a great cardiovascular exercise. “It improves fitness and helps with an increase in energy expenditure. Both indoor and outdoor cycling have their benefits and comforts. In fact, both outdoor as well as indoor cycling can help boost your cycling routine.”

But how are indoor and outdoor cycles different? What should we go for?

The battle between indoor vs outdoor cycling

Indoor cycles are made differently from the road/terrain cycles. They resist more when we pedal them. “During indoor cycling, you control the intensity at which you pedal. However, in case of an outdoor cycle, you pedal as per the intensity of the terrain,” he adds.    

Also, read: Cycling versus running: Which exercise is better, and why?

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.

Other than this, indoor cycling has the following benefits:

It doesn’t need a weather check

It can be done at your own comfort

It is easy to control

It improves endurance

It reduces risk of falling

It increases core stability

For outdoor cycling, other than providing the same health benefits as indoor cycling, is environment friendly, and can be clubbed with doing errands or a leisure weekend ride.

indoor vs outdoor cycling
These cardio exercises are easy on the knees. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“Depending on where you are cycling, it can add extra challenges making your hip and quad muscles push more. As per the terrain, you will be challenged to push more and this increases the movement and helps you become strong. Both indoor and outdoor cycling can target more muscle areas like glutes, shins, calves and burn significant calories,” explains Siddiquee. 

Should we keep pollution in mind?


While cycling outdoors has health benefits, decreasing outdoor activities amid the ongoing pandemic and increasing pollution in some parts of the country is a wise decision at the moment. 

“Many people who prefer outdoor activities such as cycling, walking, running are facing a lot of issues including itchy eyes, coughs, headaches, and heaviness in the chest, all because of deteriorating air quality,” says Siddiquee.

If you are an avid cyclist and living in the city with AQI more than 150, it is advised to reduce and minimise cycling hours outdoors. 

“Instead, compensate it with indoor cycling as active travel may increase the intake of air pollution, leading to negative health consequences,” he concludes.

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.

Period Tracker

Track your menstrual cycle using the
HealthShots Period Tracker.

Track Period