Recumbent exercise bikes can help with your return to fitness
Very often people who are overweight but want to exercise are stuck in a difficult position: their weight puts added pressure on their hips, knees and ankles which makes most exercises painful, dangerous or both. As a result they don’t exercise as much as they would like and so the weight doesn’t go away.
If you’re stuck in that loop, have you thought about trying a recumbent exercise bike?In the gym there are two main types of cycle trainer – the spinning bike and the recumbent exercise bike. Both are suitable for overweight people trying to lose the pounds but of the two the recumbent version is probably the best.
Why? Primarily because of the geometry of the machine. With a recumbent exercise bike you sit down, almost like you’re in a chair except that your feet are slightly forward and raised in front of you. There are usually hand holds to steady yourself and most recumbent exercise bikes have straps across the pedals to help keep your feet in place.
The height of the saddle and the distance to the pedals is adjustable. Usually, the saddle is more of a seat so you don’t suffer unmentionable pain from too much weight pressing down on your nether parts while you exercise. Overall, the recumbent exercise bike is probably one of the most comfortable bits of kit in the gym!
So how does all this help the soon-to-be-svelte exerciser? Well, by sitting on the bike in this way you are not placing the strain on your knees and ankles that you would if you were on a spinning bike or if you were on a treadmill or elliptical exercise machine. This means you’re unlikely to compound any damage already done and the comfort means you’re likely to be able to exercise longer – thus losing weight more quickly. Also, if you suffer from back pain the recumbent bike will allow you to exercise without aggravating it because your back is supported and there is no jarring and bumping up and down that comes with running/treadmills.
Unfortunately, tests show that you probably won’t lose as many calories per minute of exercise as you would if you were on a treadmill (you will use about 60% of what you would if you were running). However, you’re likely to gain that back over time because you will be able to exercise for longer and more often without the stress on your joints.
Done the recumbent exercise bike – now what?
Once you’ve got rid of a little weight and you’re starting to feel the buzz of being fit I recommend you avoid jumping in the deep end and ruining it all by hurting yourself. Probably the best ‘next step’ to take would be to move on to the elliptical trainer. This will give you a controlled running type exercise but with less pounding of the joints than the treadmill. Your joints will now be taking the weight of your body so don’t overdo it but the good thing is you’re now burning calories at about the same rate as if you were on the treadmill.
Why are recumbent exercise bikes a boon for the unwilling exerciser?
Let’s face it, unless you’re a triathlete or a real gym-bunny fitness freak, the chances are that you do exercise because you need to rather than want to. If people could eat and drink as much as they wanted but not get fat and stay fit the gym would never have been invented, nor all those torture machines they put in there that mock you every time you walk in.
Well, for the less than motivated exerciser there is some salvation and it comes in the form of a recumbent exercise bike. This machine is like a bike only you sit down on a nice comfy seat as opposed to an instrument of torture (sometimes known as a bicycle saddle). You can adjust the bike for comfort and most models have a variety of programmes that allow you to alter the level of effort of your workout. So, what are the key things about the recumbent exercise bike that help the unwilling exerciser to get fit?
You’re comfortable. When you’re comfortable you’re happy to continue doing what you’re doing. Compare a recumbent bike with a spinning bike in the gym and there’s no contest. On the spinning bike you have to deal with that saddle plus you’re crouched forward over the handlebars looking down at your feet, the floor and the growing puddle of your sweat. That brings us on to the next benefit:
The view. Sitting back in your sporting armchair you can look up and around you at what’s going on. Many gyms have TVs these days so you can while away an hour watching a couple of soaps, watch a few videos on your iPhone/iPad and forget about all that energy you’re expending. Alternatively, you can sit and read a book – try doing that on a treadmill!
It doesn’t hurt so much. Because you’re sitting down while you exercise you’re not putting stress and strain on your joints – particularly your ankles and knees. So, if you’re recovering from injury or are a little on the tubby side then the recumbent exercise bike will be a big help in getting you fit without causing further medical problems. People have also reported that back pain form exercise is lessened when using a recumbent bike as it supports the spine and once again there isn’t that jarring motion you get when running.
And the downsides?
Studies have shown that you don’t burn as many calories, minute for minute, as you do on a treadmill. If you took 10 minutes to burn 100 calories on a treadmill you’s only burn about 60 on a recumbent exercise bike. But don’t despair because the likelihood is that you will be able (or willing) to spend more time more often on a recumbent bike than you would a treadmill and by doing that you will, over time, expend more energy.
So, if you feel that going to the gym is a pain – in both the literal and metaphorical sense – then have a re-think; get down there with a book/iPad and while away a pleasant hour while you think about what you’re going to have for dinner as a reward for working so hard!