How many chairs give you an excellent cardio workout and enable you to maintain or lose weight? You won't derive such benefits if you sit on a recliner in front of the TV or a rocking chair on the porch. But when you sit on the chair-like seat of a recumbent exercise bike, those benefits are yours for the taking. All you have to do is start pedaling.
A recumbent bike is designed to give you an effective cardio workout, and strengthening you heart is essential for preventing a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The American Council on Exercise states that "the effectiveness of your cardio workout truly boils down to how hard you work, which you can control on just about any piece of cardio equipment ..." A recumbent bike allows you to control the amount of resistance, climb up and down hills using the bike's built in workout programs and use interval training -- short bursts at top speed followed by slow recovery periods -- to rev up the effectiveness of your cardio workouts.
Losing weight can be accomplished while you sit on a recumbent bike. Although some fitness experts say that stationary bikes are better for weight loss -- you can stand up and pedal at a spin class and a stationary bike gives your core a bit more of a workout -- the difference is relatively insignificant. The trick is to burn calories, and you can effectively do so on a recumbent bike. This is especially true if you incorporate interval training into your recumbent bike workout. The all-out bursts of interval training enable you to burn more calories in a shorter period of time.
Pain and Disability
As ACE notes, a recumbent bike is especially useful for people with lower-back problems. The chair provides support for your back, and the recumbent bike offers a low-impact workout that puts less stress on your back and your body in general. In addition, Harvard Health Publications states that a recumbent or a stationary bike often allows you to continue to work out if you have runner's knee, because a bike puts less stress on the knee joint. Finally, a recumbent bike can be just the ticket for someone with a disability or for the elderly. As Helpguide.org emphasizes, exercise is vitally important for these individuals, and sitting on the seat of a recumbent bike enables some people who can't perform other forms of exercise to effectively work out.
The best exercise machine -- or exercise routine -- is the one you enjoy and are most likely to stick with over the long haul. If you like using a recumbent bike, it's an effective way to stay in shape. You can use it as an effective cross-trainer as well, because the low-impact nature of a recumbent bike gives your body a break from high-impact sports such as running. soccer or basketball. In fact, a recumbent bike actually allows you to sit in a chair, watch TV and get fit. Seems almost too good to be true.
- American Council on Exercise: What's the Best Piece of Cardio Equipment to Use?
- Sharecare: Is Recumbent or Stationary More Effective for Weight Loss?
- IDEA Health & Fitness Association: Slow Down Aging with Interval Training
- Harvard Health Publications: Taking the Pain Out of Runner's Knee
- Helpguide.org: Chair Exercises & Limited Mobility
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.