Exercise Bikes: The Good Ride Exercise Bikes: The Good Ride

Many children spend hours of their childhood pedaling around the neighborhood on their bicycles. What better way to exercise than to relive those moments of childhood pleasure by pedaling your way to a healthy life?

A bicycle workout provides an excellent aerobic workout and can improve the condition of an individual’s lungs and heart. It can tone the legs, hips, and buttocks of the exerciser. It can also reduce the impact of exercise on the knees. The overall health of the rider should improve with the proper use of an exercise bike on a regular basis.

In general, exercise of any kind provides some benefit to the individual. Typically, the individual bike rider will feel better physically and have more energy. Additionally, weight loss may be experienced depending on the intensity of the workout. Stationary exercise bikes are available in a variety of styles:

  • upright(the traditional and most popular model to date)
  • semi-recumbent
  • recumbent
  • spincycle

Upright Bikes:

An upright stationary bike allows the exerciser to remain seated in an upright position with the legs placed below the torso or trunk of the body. An upright stationary bike is sufficient for most exercisers. Additionally, uprights are fully adjustable so the bike may be arranged to provide a customized fit for the body of the individual rider.

The handlebars and seat of many of the bike models can be adjusted to provide additional comfort for the exerciser. Additionally, the placement of the handlebars can encourage an upper body workout for the rider. In fact, the seats provided on exercise bikes are generally wider and more comfortable than in the past.

The Semi-Recumbent and Recumbent Bike:

A semi-recumbent or recumbent stationary bike allows the exerciser to sit in a reclined position with the legs placed in front of the hips and directly below heart level. A semi-recumbent or recumbent exercise bike typically works the legs of the rider. Therefore, this style of bike may be better for individuals who are not concerned with an upper body workout or for handicapped individuals who might find this style of bike to be more comfortable.

These styles, semi-recumbent or recumbent, typically take up a bit more room than a traditional upright stationary bike. In fact, the length of a recumbent exercise bike may be up to twice the length of an upright bike and therefore, may require additional storage space. Additionally, the size of the bike makes it a bit more difficult to transport or move around than the upright bike. However, many exercisers prefer the reclined seating and so, this can be overlooked.

The Spincycle Bike

Spincycles are typically found in health and exercise clubs where special classes for spincycling are offered. This style of exercise bike is high tech and high performance and is designed for a serious cardio workout that allows the rider to change positions on the bike during sessions. In fact, the rider may even choose to adopt a standing position during an intense workout. Spincycles are available for home use as well for the individual who is serious about an intensive cardio workout.

Exercise Bike Resistance

Most exercise bikes are available with numerous levels of resistance.

Four basic types of resistance mechanisms are available for stationary bikes:

  • friction
  • eddy-current braking
  • electromagnetic
  • and generator style resistance

The resistance mechanism allows the exerciser to change the level of resistance and therefore, to increase or decrease the difficulty of the workout. Typically, the type of resistance mechanism influences the smoothness of the ride, as well as the price of the bike.

Both eddy-current and friction resistance provide a reliable and steady resistance for the exerciser. They are less costly than the other two types of resistance and will be found on the lesser expensive bikes. Both electromagnetic and generator style resistance provide a smooth transition through levels of resistance and offer the exerciser a smooth ride. However, they are more expensive and can hike the price of an exercise bike up to a thousand dollars or more.

Performance Feedback

Many of the newer models of stationary bikes offer performance feedback. The rider can track their distance, speed, and the amount of time that they are using the equipment. Some individuals will increase each of these entities in an effort to increase their workout. The more expensive bikes will have sophisticated electronic monitors to display this information. The most basic models may only display the number of miles ridden and not the time taken to ride.

Heart Monitors

Many of the exercise bikes are available with heart monitors. Typically, the heart monitor involves a chest strap or a handgrip device that relays the heart rate to the display outlet. Furthermore, the rider can see what their heart rate is during the ride. Additionally, some bike models track the number of calories that have been burned during the workout.

Weight Capacities

While exercise bikes come with suggested weight capacities, the range is generous with most models falling in the 250 to 400 pound capacity. Higher quality bikes typically have higher weight ranges.

Warranties

Labor warranties are available on many of the exercise bikes, although the quality of the bike is generally reflected in the length of the warranty. Perhaps one of the most appealing features of stationary bikes is their low maintenance. Typically, little goes wrong with the more basic models. At least you won’t have to worry about getting a flat tire!

Special Features

Special features are available on many of the more expensive models, including pre-programmed performance regimens, console fans, and other perks. Newer models have a heart rate control feature. This feature automatically adjusts the intensity or resistance of the ride. This will allow your heart rate to stay in a predetermined target range.

Bike Pedals

Pedals on the exercise bikes are available in a variety of styles as well. First, there are the traditional style of pedals quite similar to those on a regular street worthy bicycle. Then, pedals that have toe clips are also available. This type of pedal offers more security and less slippage when pedaling and provides a smoother ride.

Pedals with straps are also available and they offer a more efficient ride due to the secure foot position that is acquired with the straps. Additionally, there are pedals available for the serious bike rider or professional cyclists. These pedals are clipless and require a specialized shoe that attaches to the pedal itself. The rider is guaranteed a smooth and efficient ride through all intensities with this particular model.

While the moderate use of a stationary bike does provide some benefit, a variation in the workout and technique will increase this. To receive the maximum benefit to an exercise regimen that relies on stationary bike pedaling, it is essential to follow a few guidelines.

  • Good posture is essential to an excellent workout. Maintaining good posture reduces the incidence of fatigue and an early end to the workout. Additionally, since the goal is to feel better after the workout and not worse, fatigue needs to be avoided. No matter which style of stationary bike is used, the rider should refrain from hunching over. Sitting with the shoulders directly below, the ears and leaning from the hips rather than the waist will minimize fatigue.
  • Properly hydrate the body before and after the exercise workout. Hydration is extremely important to a healthy state of physical fitness. Regulate the temperature of the room as well with a fan or air conditioning. Keep a terry cloth towel handy to wipe the sweat from your brow on those excessively hot days.
  • Dress properly for the occasion. If you aren’t comfortable, the workout will become a dreaded chore instead of a delightful pleasure. Wear clothing that will not cause chaffing to the inner thigh. Consider a padded pair of biking shorts or a padded seat for additional comfort where it counts.
  • Wearing proper footwear is a necessary facet to an excellent workout. Shoes with strong, sturdy soles are best. ? Adjust the bike to a comfortable fit. If your hips are rocking back and forth during the ride, then the seat is too high.
  • Varying the intensity of the workout is extremely important in order to continue the improvement in the rider’s fitness level. Switching the resistance or tension on the bike throughout workouts will allow the rider to achieve a grater level of improvement and healthier state of body.
  • Varying the cadence or speed of the ride has its benefits as well. This will vary the intensity of the workout and continue to provide the challenge needed for continued improvement.
  • Learn to spin the pedals properly in one continuous flow of movement to avoid straining the knee muscles. This is especially important when increasing the intensity of the ride with an increase in resistance.
  • Find motivation for the ride in addition to the motivation of a healthier you. In order to maintain the workout on a regular basis, the rider needs to have an enjoyable reason to get back on the bike besides the health benefit. Consider picking up a few travel or adventure videos that allow the mind to escape and pretend to be somewhere exciting. Consider varying reading, television watching, and telephone conversing since they are more likely to produce a calming effect on the workout.

Treadmills

If you are not sure about the exercise equipment best suited for you, consider a treadmill. Treadmills are designed to offer the ease of walking indoors with varying intensities and simulations. Like exercise bikes, they are available in a variety of styles, prices, and sizes.

Elliptical Trainers

Another piece of exercise equipment that is receiving a lot of attention lately is the elliptical trainer. The elliptical trainer combines the best of exercise bikes and treadmills to create a workout that is not only easy on the body, but also, beneficial to its health. Elliptical trainers require the exerciser to move their legs back and forth in an elliptical movement or pattern.

This movement is easy on the body and avoids stress to the feet, legs, ankles, knees, lower back, and hips. The movements flow and feel natural to the exerciser. Some models include handlebars that allow the exerciser to swing their arms back and forth in conjunction with the movement of the legs, thereby providing an upper body workout.

If you are beginning a new exercise regimen and are looking to acquire new equipment, simply do a bit of research, try out a few sample models, and decide what best fits your needs. Exercise bikes are like every other thing in the world. There is sure to be one for each of us.

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