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Exercise bike workouts like Peloton are good for heart health: experts - Insider

    • Warning: spoilers for the "Sex and the City" reboot "And Just Like That" premiere ahead. 
    • Exercise bike workouts can help boost cardiovascular fitness by raising your heart rate, improving health.
    • The workouts are safe for most people, experts say, and pacing yourself can reduce the rare risks. 

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The long-awaited "Sex and the City" reboot features a startling exercise bike-related heart attack in its December 9 premiere. However, there's no reason to fear the workout, according to cardiologists, since benefits of stationary biking more than make up for the rare risks. 

The first episode of "And Just Like That" reintroduces "Sex and the City" main characters with an updated twist: Mr. Big (Chris Noth), husband to the show's protagonist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), is now a Peloton superfan. Big completes his 1,000th class with the wildly popular home workout brand, (featuring a cameo from actual Peloton instructor Jess King). 

Immediately following his workout session, Big suffers a fatal heart attack. However, his untimely demise was more related to his lifestyle than his exercise habits, according to Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a member of Peloton's Health Wellness Advisory Council. 

"Mr. Big lived what many would call an extravagant lifestyle - including cocktails, cigars, and big steaks - and was at serious risk as he had a previous cardiac event in Season 6. These lifestyle choices and perhaps even his family history, which often is a significant factor, were the likely cause of his death," Steinbaum told Insider. "Riding his Peloton Bike may have even helped delay his cardiac event."

Experts say that while extreme exercise may be harmful in rare cases, cardio will improve heart health for most of us, not worsen it. 

An exercise bike session can spike your heart rate — but that's a good thing

Exercise bike classes can improve your cardiovascular fitness and strengthen your lower body without putting stress on your joints the way running or other exercise might. 

"Cycling is a great low-impact way to get an aerobic workout," Alexis Colvin, MD, an Orthopedic Sports Medicine Surgeon at Mount Sinai, previously told Insider. "Cycling also helps to build leg muscles such as gluteal, hamstring, and calf muscles." 

Getting your heart pumping on the bike counts as aerobic activity, which the American Heart Association recommends we all do for at least 150 minutes per week. 

Cycling isn't risk-free, but serious health complications are rare

In rare instances, excessive exercise can be an issue, particularly for people with pre-existing health conditions. A very small percentage of people can experience arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, from intense workouts, according to the Cleveland Clinic. 

One small study found that a long, difficult exercise bike class can trigger similar chemicals in your body as a heart attack. However, it's not necessarily cause for concern and the body usually recovers quickly, researchers said.  

"We don't have any reasons to believe that these levels suggest any actual damage to the heart," study author Smita DuttaRoy told NBC News. 

Exercise bike classes have also been linked to rhabdomyolysis, a rare and serious side effect of intense exercise, Insider previously reported.

Minor side effects of cycling may include lower back pain if your posture breaks down during rides, experts previously told Insider. 

The benefits of the bike (and other exercise) for cardio outweigh the risks

The bottom line is that like all forms of physical activity, cycling can have risks, but it's still a good idea to get moving. Pace yourself and stick to moderate exercise, or ease into more intensity if that's your thing, according to Harvard Health. 

Being sedentary is even riskier, evidence shows. Lack of exercise is a factor in up to 35% of deaths from coronary heart disease, according to research.

The benefits of working out are extensive, namely more energy, lower risk of disease and better mental health.

If you are concerned about specific health or injury risks related to exercise, always ask your doctor.