Yoga & Fitness Archives - Stretch Affect

Indoor Cycling is all the Rage, But is it Good for You?

With restrictions still in place in many areas of the country due to the COVID-19 virus, some people are looking for alternative ways to get exercise. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week, which can be difficult to do when staying at home. 

Since gyms in some states are closed and have been for months, those that want to stay healthy may be considering other forms of exercise, such as indoor cycling. With proper form and considerations, indoor cycling is a great way to get cardiovascular exercise while working out the most important muscle groups

With indoor cycling, you can customize your workout to try different types of rides that simulate outdoor conditions. You can increase the resistance on the bike and put more tension on the legs or lower the resistance for a more cardio-based endurance ride. Because they are customizable and relatively safe, indoor cycling classes are a perfect introduction to exercise for someone who has not worked out in a while or is looking to try something new.

Health Benefits of Indoor Cycling

If you are looking for a great way to add to or start an exercise routine, indoor cycling is safe and convenient. Here are some of the main health benefits of indoor cycling:

Burn Calories

If you are looking to offset some of that quarantine eating that you are doing, cycling indoors for 45 minutes can burn anywhere from 350-600 calories, or more! This is the equivalent of running but without the impact of hitting the ground, meaning less chance for injury.

Improve Cardiovascular Health

Because indoor cycling focuses on building endurance, your heart gets a great workout, too. Your heart rate will increase and decrease throughout the workout, depending on the intensity of the class.

Enjoy a Low-Impact Exercise

For those that might not be able to handle a high impact workout due to knee injuries or other joint issues or arthritis, indoor cycling is low-impact but delivers high-intensity cardio. You are at less risk for injury but should consult your physician if you have any pre-existing conditions that might be exacerbated. 

An indoor cycling class

Target Muscle Groups

In addition to providing some intense cardio, cycling works your lower body muscle groups such as glutes and quads. The downstroke engages the glutes, quadriceps, and the calf muscles, while the upstroke utilizes the hamstrings and flexor muscles in the hip. Core muscles are used to stabilize your body throughout a workout.

Increase Your Flexibility

Being stuck in the house might mean that you’re not moving around as much as usual. Indoor cycling is a way to increase your flexibility and athleticism without leaving the house. 

Build Mental Strength

Sometimes, working out is as much of a mental exercise as a physical one. By pushing yourself beyond what you believe to be your physical limits, you will gain more confidence in your abilities.

Boost Mood

Exercise has been shown to release endorphins, which can leave you with an exercise ‘high’. Indoor cycling is a heart-pumping workout that will leave you feeling accomplished and may improve your mood. If you are working from home and have little contact with others during this challenging time, keeping a positive attitude will help.

Tips for Staying Safe While Indoor Cycling

Whether you’re new to indoor cycling or a self-proclaimed pro, it’s important to start with warm up exercises so you don’t get injured while working out. It is equally important to properly stretch after the workout to prevent muscle strain and soreness. 

Since you never take your joints through their full range of motion with cycling, stretching after the workout is necessary. Static stretches and active stretches (involving muscle contraction) will increase flexibility in tissue. Try to hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds for maximum effectiveness. Fully stretching all muscles in the legs, including the quads, hamstrings, and calves, is important after your indoor cycling workout. If you want to take your stretches even further to keep yourself safe and at peak performance, consider assisted stretching with a professional. 

Indoor cycling can improve your cardiovascular health by building endurance and provide a challenging workout for your legs. To get the full benefit of this workout, try to commit to doing it at least three times a week and remember to stretch before and after your workout to stay safe. 

 

Stretching Vs Yoga — Understanding the Differences

stretching vs yoga

Although stretching and yoga have a few overlaps, they are two very different practices. For this reason, they have separate roles to play in your fitness routine. To determine when is the appropriate time for one or the other, we need to make a comparison between stretching vs yoga.

Similarities Between the Two

To understand the reason for the belief that stretching and yoga are virtually the same, let’s look at how they are similar. Both relieve tightness in muscles. Both can engage the entire body. They can have some of the same goals.

Here the similarities end.

The Differences

With that out of the way, we can begin to examine the many differences.

Poses vs Stretching Exercises

Stretching involves holding a position. You work on lengthening the muscle until you are stretching to the maximum. You push your body to the point just before it becomes uncomfortable, often leading to a release in tension.

A yoga workout, on the other hand, is made up of many poses. Some of these are similar (or even the same) as stretches, but a large number are quite distinct.

Furthermore, a yoga workout can be in the form of a flow, moving from one pose to another. Sometimes you hold a pose for several breaths, sometimes you change from one to another quite rapidly. This means that, although yoga can be relaxing, in other cases it can cause your heart rate to rise. Power yoga and strength-building workouts are good examples of this.

Breathing

Central to yoga is breathing technique. You breathe as deep and as long as you can. Breathing in stretching, however, teaches you to improve how you breathe during exercise. It helps you practice to avoid holding your breath.

Aims of the Practice

Whereas a stretching and yoga routine may have the same aims, it is also possible that they have very different goals. For instance, stretching can help you recover from an injury, become more flexible, improve your athletic performance, or target a particular problem area like your lower back. In contrast, whereas yoga is often for flexibility and focus, it can also be for strength, posture, and balance.

Ability Levels

Anyone can practice yoga just as anyone can (and should) stretch. However, yoga workouts are designed for different ability levels. Some poses take many years to achieve and are impossible before your body has developed the necessary strength and openness.

Stretching is accessible to everyone. Although you may find that you are unable to get deep into some stretches, you will receive the same benefits as someone who is extremely flexible in the same muscle.
When choosing between stretching vs yoga, you need to decide what you are looking to gain from the practice. If you want to add an extra workout to your training that focuses on breathing, strength, and balance, among other things, opt for yoga. However, If you want to improve performance with regular training, return after an injury, or improve your flexibility in a particular area of the body, stretching is the better option. At Stretch Station, we focus on creating a unique and tailored assisted stretching program in order to aid your overall health.