For a small, portable piece of workout equipment, the pedal exerciser packs a big punch. You do not need expensive cardiovascular machines, or a even a gym membership to get a good workout. Used at a high intensity with proper form and as part of your weekly fitness routine, the pedal exerciser improves your cardiovascular system, burns calories and makes you sweat. Using your legs, or arms if you choose, you can pedal your way to a good muscle-fatiguing, heart-pumping workout.
A pedal exerciser resembles bike pedals on a stationary platform. It sits on the floor and you sit in a chair with your feet on the pedals and cycle. The exercise is easy to learn, can be performed almost anywhere and is low-impact. The American Council on Exercise studied an arm cycle for its effectiveness in a group fitness setting. The study found that participants burn an average of nine calories per minute during arm cycling, elevate their heart rates to 86 percent of their maximum heart rate and increase their breathing rates to 72 percent of their maximum. When test subjects were asked to rate the exercise, the responses were the workout was hard to somewhat hard.
One way to determine the effectiveness of an aerobic workout is through the use of the talk test. While you sit and pedal, try to sing. If you can, pick up your speed until you are able to carry on a conversation with only a slight pause for a breath. When you exercise at this level, you are able to sustain the workout for 30 to 60 minutes ensuring you improve your cardiovascular system and burn calories for aiding weight loss.
Not only can you use a pedal exerciser for your foot, you are also able to pedal with your hands. If you have an injury to your lower body, place the pedals on a table and cycle with your hands. The same guidelines regarding the talk test apply to determine if arm cycling is effective. Increase the resistance or the speed until your breathing and heart rate speed to the point where you are able to talk, but not sing.
You may have the mindset of "no pain, no gain." Since the pedal exerciser does not result in pain, you may not think it is a good workout. The American Council on Exercise reminds that moderate-intensity exercise is effective. You may want to increase the duration of your pedal exercise workout if you need more of a challenge, but as long as you increase your heart rate, you are receiving a good workout.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.