Benefits of Using an Exercise Bike:
Cycling without leaving home
An exercise bicycle is one of the commonest pieces of equipment in any gym or home with good reason. The versatility and ease of use, the compact size and affordable price tag make it perfect for burning fat, cardio fitness training or rehabilitation after surgery or injury.
Using a conventional bicycle for fitness training has many advantages over running. Pounding the sidewalks produces unavoidable impact injuries to knees and hip joints and often training is interrupted while you wait to recovery from soreness or worse. The fluid movements of cycling place far less pressure on joints and ligaments.
The problem with conventional cycling is that you need the right environment for maximum benefit. Riding in a busy city can be stressful- and stress will counter act many of the benefits of exercise. Heavy traffic can also mean diesel fumes. There is the risk of accidents even for seasoned cyclists.
In country areas, steep hills can be inappropriate for people seeking light exercise or building fitness from a low base. Poor weather can mean days missed from training programs. For anyone with balance or co-ordination problems cycling can be completely out of the question.
An exercise bicycle can offer the perfect alternative with all the fitness building capacity plus a safe and predictable environment. With a standard console fitted to your bike you can also monitor heart rate to ensure maximum (but not excessive) cardio training, check calories burned (if you want to lose weight) and see at a glance how you are progressing in terms of endurance. Many consoles also offer entertainment like movies or TV to make the time pass enjoyably.
Types of Exercise Bike
There are many different kinds of bike on the market each designed to suit a particular need. These range from bikes appropriate for professional athletes to bikes for people recovering from heart surgery who need very gentle exercise initially.
Some of the things to look out for when choosing an exercise bike are:
What creates the resistance to cycling?
Old fashioned models used friction belts which were noisy and hard to adjust. Cheaper modern bikes use magnetic resistance which are pretty quiet and get quieter as you go up the price bands. The magnets are mover closer to the wheel for higher resistance. The best modern models use electromagnetic resistance which a built in computer can set at just the right level for your needs. They are almost silent in use.
Straps on the pedals
These help with safety- no one wants grazed ankles from feet slipping. They need to be robust and adjustable.
Most exercise bikes should offer this information at a minimum:
Most people using a home bike will be able to watch a TV or listen to music when they exercise but if you want built in entertainment you will need a console with MP3, TV or DVD capabilities.
These are important if you want a serious work out. They offer another kind of resistance. When you feel the need for more effort you apply a break to slow the flywheel and then work hard to get it up to speed again.
Example of Exercise Bikes
A Low Cost Upright Bike
An upright exercise bike of the kind shown belowis one of the most popular home models. The set up is very similar to a conventional bike.
At around $200 dollars the Schwinn Active 10 above, is not a rock bottom price model but it has all the best features of a quality bike at a very good price.
Â· It has 11 exercise programs
Â· Handle grip heart rate sensors
Â· Computer-controlled, eddy current resistance adjustable to 8 levels
Â· There are 6 pre set workouts, one manual, three heart rate control programs and one target heart rate
A Recumbent Exercise Bike
'Recumbent' means lying down. A recumbent bike offers the advantage of good support for the back and very little strain on the neck and shoulders which can be a problem for some people using an upright model. Also if you have blood pressure problems the recumbent bike will help to keep blood pressure lower as the heart works less hard to pump blood in the lying position. They are also easier to get on and off for people with limited mobility.
One disadvantage is that recumbent models tend to take up more space than uprights.
A popular mid-priced recumbent bike is the
Diamondback Fitness 900Sr Step-Thru Recumbent Exercise Bike for around $600 (see image, right)
Bikes of this kind feature high level seats with step through frames for easy mounting.