“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” Prince Guatma Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism stated it perfectly thousands of years ago and it is still true today. Through exercise the body works at optimal health. Through technology exercising is easier and more available than ever before. Exercise bikes, one of the more popular ways to workout, are available as uprights or recumbents with lots of bells and whistles that provides a range of price from $100 to more than $2000. Finding excuses to not workout is becoming more and more difficult.
The Upright Exercise Bike
The upright exercise bike is the common bike pumped up for workouts. Even though it’s a stationary piece of equipment, the same health benefits are there for the taking. In an upright position, it allows for more movement. The rider chooses to sit in a racing position or can even stand while pedaling. Either way, a cardio work out can be achieved no matter what the weather is outside.
Although the upper body receives little workout, the lower body, legs and thighs, do the work and gain the most muscle strengthening and toning. Flexibility and range of motion can be greatly improved from using the upright as a workout choice. Riding an upright exercise bike creates less stress on the spine than running or jogging.
The Recumbent Exercise Bike
Recumbent exercise bikes sit lower to the floor, with the legs stretched out in front and a backrest supporting the back. Considered more comfortable than the upright bike, the recumbent is better for those who suffer from back pain or who are new to the world of exercise. Little or no pressure stresses the knees or other joints due to the technology of the recumbent exercise bike.
This mode of cycling has one downside with a belief that the workout may be less intense. A healthy cardio work is only a click away. Starting out slow and working up to a high-powered workout is possible. It also strengthens and stretches the muscles in the lower leg and thighs.
Men will find that their lower bodies rival the upper body in physique health. Women, it’s all about the legs and derriere. By sliding the seat forward and raiding the legs, the lower abs get a workout similar to doing crunches. A downside to recumbent cycling is that the bikes tend to be higher priced than their upright cousins.
Benefits of Exercise Bikes
The greatest benefit of any exercise program or machine is increased good health. Exercise bikes numerous advantages have made them a top seller when it comes to exercise equipment. They can be found at the gym as well as in the home.
The only down side is that finding room can be problematic; however, technology has found a way for bikes to take up less room by giving some bikes the ability to collapse and be stored under the bed or in a closet.Finding both the upright and recumbent bikes in the same series provides more choices and most manufacturers are obliging buyers with this option.
Besides allowing for more floor space, the bottom line is that an exercise bike gives a great cardio work out. For men and women it gives the lower body strength, flexibility, and range of motion. To benefit your health the most, work out at least 3 days a week for at least 20 minutes allowing for a warm-up period and cool down time. A good cardio workout raises the heart rate 60-85 percent beyond the resting heart rate.
Exercise Bikes On the Cutting Edge of Technology
The respected Consumer Reports gave Life Fitness’s C-3 series exercise bikes one of its top ratings. The bike comes with 20 levels of resistance and 10 pre-programmed workouts and is considered of gym quality. A Polar heart-rate monitor with a wireless chest strap is included. This bike is pedal powered and no plug is needed. It can handle weights up to 400 pounds but the price is hefty as well at $1600 for the upright and $1800 for the recumbent.
Companies trying to alleviate the boredom of indoor bicycling turned to technology to lead the way into the new generation of exercise bikes. For those willing to pay the higher prices, all sorts of options are available.
Spinning, which is a virtual ride with friends lead by an instructor is a possibility with pre-programmed workouts. The Game Rider, an exercise bike, puts a whole new twist and turn to exercise by plugging into play station. The bike controls the motions of the more than 40 racing games to choose from. The technology of the Game Rider adds much needed interest for kids to get up off the sofa and start exercising, with even schools using this workout tool as incentive for obese children to start moving.
The Expresso Fitness Company has come up with “Spark,” a workout cycle that includes a television, Internet, music channels, and a program with virtual competitive racing against opponents and scenery. The handlebars are designed to move on this stationary bicycle so the rider can maneuver the bike over the course. It even includes a gear shift for riding up and down virtual hills. The negative aspect of this edgy exercise bike is that it’s difficult to use and not recommended for the novice cyclist just starting a workout regimen.
Elliptical trainers are the cross between exercise bikes and treadmills. The increase in popularity of this new hybrid exercise machine is due to its ability to give a full body workout, exercising both the upper body and the lower body as well as providing a cardio workout. Add to the mix less stress on the knees and joints.
The elliptical trainer shows itself to be an all round efficient way to get a great work out and helps improve overall health. Exercising with this machine increases bone density and burns calories just as the exercise bike does. In essence, in less time, overall health is improved along with a toned body. Take up less room is an added bonus not to be overlooked.
Things to Consider Before Jumping on an Exercise Bike
Before heading out to purchase an exercise bike; remember it all comes down to personal choices in comfort and what is desired from the workout.
The seat should be comfortable and fit. No matter what kind of bike is chosen, each one should be able to adjust to any height by quickly moving the seat with ease.
When considering a recumbent make sure the backrest is comfortable and supports the back.
Look for wide pedals with straps that the feet fit into. Wheel covers or shrouds reduces the amount of dust stirred up and muffles the noise. They also prevent small fingers from being pinched. *While seated on the bike make sure you can read and reach the monitor for needed adjustments while working out. At the very minimum, models should display speed, distance, time, calories burned, as well as resistance level.
A word to the wise, the heavier the front wheel is the more stable the bike should be, so be certain to check this aspect of the bike. Casters make the bikes easy to move to more convenient or out of the way areas in the home.
Technology has found a way to include heart rate monitors with some models. The chest straps are the most accurate, but a hand gripped sensor gives a decent read as well. The wireless chest straps, for obvious reasons, are the most desirable. Most exercise bikes come with warranties, but look for one that comes with a one year warranty that includes labor. If the bike should need repairs someone will more than likely have to come to the home.
Technology is changing the world of good health with innovations in exercise equipment, but it all comes down to what suits the buyer. Try out various machines to get a good idea of fit and comfort. Personal preferences vary and the importance of one feature over another is unique to each individual. Whether opting for a recumbent or upright exercise bike or looking more toward an elliptical trainer, make sure a health care professional has given the thumbs up on the beginning of any exercise program that leads to good health.