Should You Opt For A Recumbent Exercise Bike?
Exercise bikes are a great piece of home exercise equipment to use to get a cardiovascular workout improving the health of your heart whilst improving the muscle tone of your lower body. A major benefit of using an exercise bike to improve fitness is that compared to other types of exercise use of a stationary exercise bike tends to be low impact. Selecting an exercise bike can be less than straightforward with so many models and types on the market. The main choices you will encounter will be whether to opt for an upright exercise bike, a recumbent exercise bike, a foldable or alternatively a mini exercise bike.
Recumbent exercise bikes are instantly recognisable. Any exercise bike that has the pedals at the same height as the seat is technically a recumbent bike. Notably, these bikes will often come with a comfortable bucket seat which will lend itself well to a lounging posture when pedalling the bike.
Practical and Health Benefits
Recumbents are not just some fashion fad. There are compelling reasons to choose a recumbent over other types of the exercise bike. The principal difference between a recumbent and upright exercise bike is in the lumbar support these bikes offer over other types. The lounging position and deep, supportive seats characteristic of these bikes means that unlike an upright exercise bike, it is impossible to hunch over whilst exercising, you and your body weight are fully supported during the exercise cycle.
As with most exercise bikes, recumbents exert little pressure on the knees, ankle or hip joints, so no matter what weight you are or what degree of exercise you already carry out these machines will not damage your joints as a treadmill or other cardio exercises might. Some experts comment that the recumbent position achieved whilst exercising is also beneficial from a blood pressure point of view in so much as the open knee joints and linear position of the body during exercise on a recumbent promote a lower blood pressure during the exercise.
Apart from health benefits recumbent bikes also have some practical benefits in their favour. You are unlikely to develop saddle sores using a recumbent due to the types of the seat provided and your positioning on the bike during exercise. Furthermore, the lack of balancing required to operate the bike leaves users “hands-free” meaning other exercises can be undertaken at the same time, ideal for those who are pushed for time.
Features of Recumbent Exercise Bikes
If you have decided a recumbent bike is for you will now be faced with a plethora of choices when you come to buy a recumbent exercise bike. There are many models from many manufacturers offering different features at different prices. The first consideration you should have is which method is used to generate the resistance in the pedal action. This will have a large impact on price and the usability of the equipment.
Direct tension recumbent exercise bike – These bikes create tension via a belt that can be tightened or clamping mechanisms that can be altered to suit the level of exercise you require. Typically they are the cheapest models on the market and produce a less than smooth peddle action.
Flywheel recumbent – A smoother alternative to the direct tension, the flywheel is large (the larger the smoother action) steel wheel that is turned via a belt as in a normal cycle. The wheel creates kinetic tension as a normal bike wheel might giving the feel of normal bike riding conditions. The belt is often sent through gears to make the belt tighter and create more resistance. To ensure good performance look for a bike with a wheel weighing at least 13kgs.
Air – These machines create resistance from a flow of air that is created by a fan within the wheel when the wheel is turned. Not the quietest machine but sophisticated enough for a solid workout with smooth pedalling.
Magnetic recumbent exercise bike – these machines are top end, ultra quiet and often used in health centres. Steel wheels are controlled by magnetic resistance for friction free pedalling.
Other features to look out for include adjustability and weight capacity of the bike, programmable options and display options. Clearly bikes that are multi-adjustable and have larger weight capacities are likely to give a longer service life than lightweight models, but this will be reflected in the price. The degree of programmability the bike offers will also be reflected in price but can be a worthwhile consideration as over the longer term bikes with programmes tend to pique user interest and motivation for longer and therefore give better results than lesser models. The level of display you opt for will also impact on cost but can again reinforce motivation over the longer term and prove beneficial.
Whichever option you go for try and test drive the model first and find the most comfortable, user-friendly and durable machine you can. Compared to most other exercise bikes recumbent is often the most expensive but consider the benefits before you opt for a cheaper model and consider that these bikes can last a lifetime if you select a quality bike initially.
How Much Do They Cost?
Most recumbent will cost anything from $200 through to $3000 depending on the build quality, features you require and capacities of the machine. For home use, the top end costs probably aren’t justifiable but a mid price model with as many top end features as possible can lead to a very satisfying purchase. When it comes to recumbents there are some leading manufacturers with a long reliable history that can be trusted to provide quality machines. Look out for Schwinn recumbent exercise bikes, Cybex and Life Fitness. Schwinn are the recognised market leaders and their best selling model worth checking out is the Schwinn 230 recumbent bike retailing at circa $440, however, they have much more entry level and commercial high-end machines worth checking out.
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