A pedal exerciser is a piece of fitness equipment that can offer some extra movement. In turn, it can help you burn more calories.
Pedal exercisers are basically the pedals of a stationary bike without the saddle. Many people find this piece of cardio equipment a convenient way to get in some light exercise while doing other things like working at a desk or watching tv.
The average person can expect to burn around 103 – 178+ calories per 30 minutes of using a pedal exerciser. This number will vary from individual to individual due to a variety of factors.
For example, a 125-pound (56 kg) individual will burn around 81 calories during 30 minutes of using a pedal exerciser at a very light effort.
On the other hand, a 215-pound (97 kg) individual will burn around 178 calories during the same session of using a pedal exerciser at the same intensity.
Something to keep in mind is that how intense you do this type of exercise influences the number of calories you burn a lot.
This article will also show you a more detailed chart that takes multiple factors into account, how different pedal exerciser intensities compare, how to burn more calories while using a pedal exerciser, and more.
Biggest influences on calories burned
A fact that many people find annoying is that the number of calories you burn while doing something like using a pedal exerciser is hard to predict and measure correctly.
This fact can make things like weight loss feel like a guessing game when you are trying to balance these numbers with the calories in food.
Even so, good estimations for the number of calories burned while using a pedal exerciser can be a helpful starting point. By taking a few important factors into account you can make your estimations more accurate.
Some of the biggest factors that influence how many calories you burn while using a pedal exerciser include:
- Weight: To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more you weigh, the more energy your body needs to fuel its movements.
- Body composition: Body composition is how much of your body weight is made up of different tissue. Two people can weigh the same but for one individual most of the weight can come from fat while the second individual has a lot of muscle. The reason that is important is that the same weight of muscle requires more energy than that weight in fat.
- Intensity: If you’re looking at calories burned per minute of using a pedal exerciser this can vary a lot by moving the pedals at a fast vs slow speed.
- Resistance setting: Most pedal exercisers have the ability to adjust the resistance, how hard you have to pedal. The higher the resistance, the more energy your body will have to use to move the pedals.
Hidden calorie burning from using a pedal exerciser
There are many other aspects that make it even harder to put how many calories you burn by using a pedal exerciser into an exact number. This includes the fact that the calorie-burning effects of using a pedal exerciser are not limited to during the workout.
As mentioned, how much you weigh plays a relatively big role in how many calories you burn. This doesn’t just apply to your workout, this is also the case during everyday activities.
Some people also build or preserve a little amount of muscle mass by using a pedal exerciser, especially if they turn up the resistance.
This amount of muscle mass will definitely not be as much as something like weight lifting but it does help you burn more calories day in, day out.
It is however extremely hard to put this amount into a number since this muscle mass will be so different from person to person. Individuals more experienced with resistance training will likely not build any muscle by using a pedal exerciser.
Next, doing an activity at high intensities can also cause something called “afterburn”. This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stop doing the exercise.
Lastly, by moving your body more you influence the levels of certain hormones that in turn can benefit your metabolism.
Estimations of the number of calories burned with using a pedal exerciser usually don’t take these effects into account.
Estimations calories burned pedaling
The centers for disease control and prevention simplifies the number of calories burned with moderate effort stationary bicycling into between 3.5 – 7 calories per minute (1).
In reality, there are tools to make more precise estimations. To calculate calories burned during certain exercises more specifically you can use a formula with MET values.
A MET value is an exercise-specific value to indicate how intense a specific type of workout is. This number represents how many times more intense the exercise is compared to sitting still.
You can use this in the following formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
Unfortunately, there are no MET estimations for the small pedal exercisers specifically. However, the MET estimation for very light to light effort stationary biking (30-50 watts resistance) is 3.5 (2). Since that activity is similar, this article will use this MET for the pedal exerciser.
You can look at the number of calories burned while using a pedal exerciser from different perspectives. The first table will show estimations for the calories burned when using the MET mentioned for different body weights and time intervals.
Additionally, you can also find a chart comparing different pedal exerciser and stationary bike intensities.
Again keep in mind that these are estimations. This formula doesn’t take into account certain important factors that do influence the number of calories burned with a pedal exerciser.
To put these estimations into perspective, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contains about 87 calories (3).
Calories burned with a pedal exerciser
One of the most convenient ways to see how many calories you burned with a pedal exerciser is by looking at how much time you spent doing it.
These numbers are calculated with the MET of light effort stationary biking (30-50 watts resistance). If you use a pedal exerciser more intensely some of the numbers in the second table may represent your situation better.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||3 calories||52 calories||103 calories||155 calories||207 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||4 calories||64 calories||128 calories||192 calories||256 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||5 calories||76 calories||153 calories||229 calories||306 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||6 calories||89 calories||178 calories||267 calories||356 calories|
Calories burned different pedal exerciser intensities
Pedal exercisers tend to be used in a light effort way while doing other things. That being said, you can also focus on really picking up the pace. This leads to a higher number of calories burned.
In the table below you can find estimations of calories burned with different intensities of using a pedal exerciser when doing the activity for 30 minutes.
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||185 Pounds (83 kg)||215 Pounds (97 kg)|
|Very Light Effort|
|128 calories||153 calories||178 calories|
|176 calories||210 calories||244 calories|
|249 calories||297 calories||345 calories|
|322 calories||385 calories||447 calories|
|Very Vigorous Effort|
|403 calories||481 calories||559 calories|
How to burn more calories with a pedal exerciser
The number of calories burned with a pedal exerciser is certainly not something set in stone. There are a few ways you can increase this amount per time interval.
The challenge for most people is fitting in activities in their busy schedules. They want to burn as many calories in the least amount of time, which means burning more calories per minute of using a pedal exerciser.
If you do have more time, spending more time using a pedal exerciser will generally burn more calories although at some point overtraining may cause the reverse.
A more obvious way to burn more calories with pedal exercisers is by doing more intense workouts where you move your legs faster. At some intensity point, you also get the added afterburn effect.
The second way to burn more calories on a pedal exerciser is by making the rotations harder to do. This is mainly done by increasing the resistance setting but in theory you could also wear ankle weights.
Another method is building some extra muscle mass with other exercises.
Can you lose weight using a pedal exerciser?
Using a pedal exerciser is an activity that can help you burn a few extra calories. In combination with good habits in other lifestyle areas, pedal exercisers can help weight loss.
One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000 calories). How long it takes to see weight loss results from using a pedal exerciser will also depend on the number of calories in your diet.
One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intensely to see the same weight loss results. You can even lose weight without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.
30 minutes of using a pedal exerciser a day could help you burn an extra 1280 calories in 10 days which is about 0.37 pounds of body fat. 30 days, 3840 calories (= +- 1.1 pounds of body fat), and so on…
Keep in mind that losing weight too fast can be suboptimal. In general, a 500 calorie deficit per day is considered to be a healthy weight loss rate.
What muscles does a pedal exerciser work?
Using a pedal exerciser mainly works muscles like your quadriceps, glutes, calves, and hamstrings.
If you are relatively inexperienced when it comes to resistance training, using a pedal exerciser could help you grow and strengthen some of these muscles a small amount. Especially if you turn up the resistance.
For individuals more experienced with resistance training, using a pedal exerciser is likely not enough to build a lot of muscle mass.
Both groups of people generally benefit from giving their bodies enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow their muscles after an intense pedal exerciser session.
Should you use a pedal exerciser to burn calories?
Pedal exercisers can offer a decent workout that can help you burn a few extra calories. That being said, there are definitely also many exercise options that are more effective in this area.
One benefit of pedal exercisers is that you can use them while doing other activities like working at a desk or watching tv. Regularly using a pedal exerciser in moments like these can really add up.
If calorie burning is your main goal, implementing some exercises in your schedule specifically for building muscle can be helpful.
The extra muscle mass will help you burn more calories day in, day out, including during your pedal exerciser sessions.
Also keep in mind that the things you eat stay important no matter what movement routine you’re following. It’s hard to out-exercise a bad diet.