Surprising Side Effects of Indoor Cycling

Stretching the lower back on a spin bike.
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After an intense indoor cycling class, you probably expect to experience certain symptoms like sore leg muscles, serious thirst, maybe even a touch of saddle soreness. But you could also end up with some irritating mementos that can catch you by surprise. Don’t let these mystifying side effects deter you from going back for more! You can deal with them more easily than you may think, with the right approaches.

Uncomfortable Chafing

Did your clothes rub you the wrong way? If you’re wearing ill-fitting bottoms (and cotton fabrics, in particular) while you cycle, the combination of friction and moisture can leave you with an unpleasant red rash on your thighs. It’s not a road rash; it’s chafing, pure and simple.

To prevent chafing, stick with form-fitting bike shorts or capris that are made of moisture-wicking fabric.

Ravenous Hunger

Given that you torched serious calories during an indoor cycling class, it’s hardly shocking that you’re hungry afterward. But if your appetite kicks into overdrive, it may be a sign that you’re not fueling up properly for this high-intensity activity. Next time, eat something before your workout; even a handful of whole-grain cereal or a small banana will do. Also, refuel with a smart snack afterward; good choices contain a combo of carbs and protein—such as a small container of Greek yogurt with ½ cup of blueberries; two tablespoons of hummus and baby carrots; or a tablespoon or two of peanut butter on apple slices.

Aching Feet

Indoor cycling isn’t a weight-bearing workout the way running or walking is so you may be bewildered by how sore your feet are after an intense class. But this can happen if you’re pushing hard on the pedals or spending a fair amount of time doing standing climbs—especially if you’re not wearing sufficiently supportive shoes.

To prevent sore feet, consider investing in cycling shoes. To relieve the ache, rub the soles of your feet against a foam roller or a tennis ball—or ask your honey for a foot massage.

Stinky Clothes

While you probably expect to generate your fair share of dirty laundry, given what sweat-fest indoor cycling is, you may be surprised by how much the stench or sweat stains can linger. Your best bet is to wash your sweaty clothes on the hottest setting the fabric can tolerate right after your ride; if you can’t do that, or if the smell or stains persist, try using a detergent that’s specially designed for workout wear.

Seeing Stars

If you feel lightheaded or dizzy when you get off the bike, you may be suffering from blood pooling, a rapid drop in blood pressure that occurs when you don’t let your heart rate come down gradually. Or, it could be the result of mild dehydration or low blood sugar. The best ways to prevent this are to stay well hydrated throughout the ride, spend a few minutes cooling down (so your heart rate can return to normal) at the end of the ride, and get off the bike slowly so you’ll feel like you’re returning to solid ground.

A Word From Verywell

Now that you know how to deal with negative side effects that can occur with indoor cycling, let’s not overlook an incredibly positive one: the psychological high of your life. Don’t be surprised if you emerge from an indoor cycling class feeling exhilarated, even euphoric, thanks to the release of those feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins. It’s the cyclist’s version of the runner’s high—and it feels fantastic. Enjoy it! 

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bury K, Leavy JE, O'Connor A, Jancey J. Prevalence, Prevention and Treatment of Saddle Sores Among Female Competitive Cyclists: A Scoping Review ProtocolMethods Protoc. 2020;3(1):4. doi:10.3390/mps3010004

  2. Ormsbee MJ, Bach CW, Baur DA. Pre-Exercise Nutrition: The Role of Macronutrients, Modified Starches and Supplements on Metabolism and Endurance PerformanceNutrients. 2014;6(5):1782‐1808. doi:10.3390/nu6051782

  3. MacDonald JR. Potential causes, mechanisms, and implications of post exercise hypotensionJ Hum Hypertens. 2002;16(4):225‐236. doi:10.1038/sj.jhh.1001377

By Stacey Colino, AFAA-GFI
Stacey Colino is a certified spinning instructor and group exercise instructor through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA).