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Cycling on a stationary bike is an excellent cardio workout that targets your quads, calves and core, all while increasing your heart rate and rate of breathing. According to LiveStrong, riding a stationary bike for just 30 minutes will burn up to 300 calories. However, there are a few things you should know before getting on the stationary bike.

#1) Stretch

Spend five to 10 minutes stretching your body before using a stationary bike. Stretching improves blood flow and muscle flexibility while reducing the risk of injury in the process.

When stretching, lift one of your knees and gently hold it against your chest for five seconds, after which you can bring it down and repeat with the other knee. It’s also a good idea to stretch your shoulders by lifting your arms above your head and rotating your shoulders like you are shrugging.

#2) Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water before, during and after using a stationary bike. Why is this important? Well, assuming you cycle at a moderate pace, you’ll lose a substantial amount of body moisture through perspiration. And if you don’t consume enough water, you’ll become dehydrated, resulting in muscle cramps and fatigue. This is why most seasoned athletes and gym rats bring a water bottle to use while cycling on a stationary bike.

#3) Adjust the Handlebars

One of the first things you’ll want to do after getting on a stationary bike is adjust the handlebars. Nearly all gym-grade bikes have adjustable handlebars. Lowering them will make you feel more aerodynamic, but this doesn’t offer any real benefit since you are indoors. Raising the handlebars, on the other hand, allows you cycle upright, which many people find to be more comfortable. Adjust the handlebars until you find a height that works best for your needs.

#4) Adjust the Seat

In addition to the handlebars, you should also adjust the seat. Ideally, the seat should be about the same height as your hip when standing. This will allow you to pedal while creating just a slight bend of 5 to 15 degrees in your knees when fully extended. If the seat is too low, your knees will have a greater bend, causing increased stress and restricting your ability to pedal.

#5) Watch Your Knees

Stationary bikes have a low risk of injury when compared to other exercise machines and equipment. However, it’s still a form of impact exercise, meaning it places stress on the joints and supporting structures. One area of the body, in particular, that’s susceptible to injury when using a stationary bike is the knees. If you experience swelling, redness or pain in your knees, stop using the stationary bike and wait for the symptoms to subside.

#6) Pedal With the Balls of Your Feet

You should pedal a stationary bike by pressing down with the balls of your feet. Some people have a tendency to pedal with their toes, which reduces their performance and increases the risk of injury. Be conscious of your posture when using a stationary bike and pedal with the balls of your feet, not your toes.

#7) Familiarize Yourself with the Digital Display

Finally, familiarize yourself with the stationary bike’s digital display. Most models allow riders to change the resistance setting on the display. Some also support incline settings to make it more challenging. Start with the low settings and gradually increase the resistance settings until you find the right difficulty level for your needs.

Riding a stationary bike is a fun way to burn calories and tone your body. To reap the most benefit from this workout, though, you should follow the seven tips listed here.

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