HomeHealthFit & HealthyMaximize Your Exercise: Equipment, Programs That Simulate Getting on the Road

Maximize Your Exercise: Equipment, Programs That Simulate Getting on the Road

Outdoor exercises like bicycling, hiking, running and walking are very popular for those who want to stay active. Being outdoors also offers added benefits, like interesting scenery and motivating environments. Unfortunately, getting outside to workout isn’t possible or advised for everyone. For that reason, indoor home exercise equipment and programs have been developed to simulate outdoor activities.


Exercising outdoors isn’t always a possible or safe option for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps you:

  • are stuck indoors
  • live in an urban environment
  • lack time to travel to and from natural environments
  • need to workout early in the morning or late at night
  • feel unsafe outside alone
  • are recovering from an injury
  • live in an area with inclement weather

Being on the road, whether on a bicycle or your feet, also comes with increased risks. These include:

Unsafe terrain: Streets may not have bike lanes or sidewalks. They may also have hazards like potholes, pebbles, debris, grates, or train tracks. Trails may be washed out or have uneven footing and other tripping hazards.

Accidents or crashes: Motorists and others on the road may be distracted or impaired. People also may not know or adhere to proper safety protocols or laws for bicyclists or pedestrians.

Animal attacks: Dog attacks are a risk for cyclists and runners or walkers. Exercising outdoors also exposes you to other animals that may pose a threat.

Injury or death: Head injury, from a small cut to traumatic brain injury, is the most common injury for outdoor cyclists. The highest rate of fatalities while bicycling outside is among adults aged 50-59. Also, outdoor exercise is often harder on your body, increasing the possibility of injury or strain.

Other safety concerns: When exercising outdoors, especially solo, there’s also increased concern of being a victim of violent crime. In a study by Wearsafe Labs, 34% of people said they feel afraid when working out alone outdoors, especially in the dark.



When you wish you could get out on the road, there are ways to replicate the experience at home. Popular brands of at-home exercise equipment include NordicTrack, ProForm, Peloton and Echelon. Many others are available as well, offering varying options and price points.

Stationary Bikes

Suppose you’re temporarily unable to bicycle outdoors because of an injury or weather or prefer a safer option. In that case, you can replicate the feeling of cycling outdoors with an indoor stationary bike. Costs vary depending on the type of bike and features and range from $200 and up into the $2000s or higher for more advanced equipment.

Upright bikes are the most similar to outdoor bikes offering a smaller seat above the pedals. They tend to be more lightweight and have a smaller footprint. You can adjust the resistance and even stand up to change up your workout. An air bike is a type of upright bike with a fan instead of electronic controls to add resistance and replicate the feeling of wind experienced when bicycling outdoors.

Recumbent bikes are lower and more extended. The pedals are in front of the seat with a seat back to provide back support. It’s more laid back and suitable for a variety of fitness levels. It may be safer for those who are more out of shape, overweight, new to bicycling, or seniors. Recumbent bikes do take up more space because of their design.

Dual-action stationary bikes are combined with another type of exercise equipment like an elliptical or stair-climber to combine different types of exercise.

Bike trainer stands like the BalanceFrom Bike Trainer Stand can temporarily convert an outdoor bicycle for indoor use when you can’t take it out on the road. This is a much less expensive option.

Interactive bikes, such as those from Peloton or connected to apps like iFit, have a screen attached to incorporate a virtual aspect to your ride but tend to be more expensive. 

Treadmills and Ellipticals

If you enjoy running, hiking, or walking outdoors, treadmills and ellipticals are indoor options that can give you a similar experience. Treadmill costs vary significantly depending on features and brands from the low to mid-hundreds. They can cost $2500 or more for higher-end products. Ellipticals have a similar range, with many of the best products for at-home use ranging between $1000-2000.

There are basic treadmill models that can fold up or fit into small spaces for walking and slow jogging. More advanced treadmills and ellipticals can better replicate outdoor changes in elevation. They can sync to actual trails and roads, automatically changing the machine’s elevation or resistance to match the outdoor environment. 

Immersive Programs

iFit is an interactive fitness program compatible with many different stationary bikes, treadmills, and other indoor workout equipment from several companies. There are live and recorded workout videos. iFit offers a large number of immersive experiences. Hence, you feel like you’re biking or trekking through far-off places around the globe or even on your own path traced on Google Maps. If you have compatible equipment, it can adjust your resistance, incline, and speed to match the environment. 

Zwift is a virtual fitness adventure program on an app for a monthly fee. You create an avatar that travels through one of the virtual courses in France or Zwift’s own created world, Watopia. There are options for either running and walking or bicycling. You can earn badges and complete challenges to increase motivation. There are also community events where you complete routes with other users.

Peloton offers an all-access membership app and their own stationary bikes and treadmills with screens for home-based workouts. There are both live and recorded classes with a trainer and scenic rides that let you virtually travel real-life destinations using recorded video. Bikes start at $1895, treadmills at $2495. Digital membership can be used without a Peloton machine or choose the all-access membership for those with a Peloton machine.

So what if you want the virtual experience of being outdoors without the cost? Look for videos on YouTube or other streaming services that simulate the experience of bicycling, hiking, walking, or running all around the world.

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