You've been wanting to go for a bike ride and get some exercise, but the weather isn't cooperating. This is when a recumbent bike is a great choice for a workout. Unlike an upright stationary bike, which mimics a standard road bike in basic design and seat discomfort, a recumbent bike places you in a semi-reclined position, making it much more comfortable and bottom-friendly. Because the seat has a full back support and is low to the floor, a recumbent bike is a good workout choice for those with balance issues or back problems.
Sit on the seat and place your right foot on the floor and your left foot on the pedal. Rotate the pedals until the left pedal is at its farthest point away from the seat.
Locate and lift the seat adjustment lever, which is usually located to the right of the seat. Adjust the seat so your left knee is slightly bent with the pedal in the farthest position. Release the lever to lock the seat in place. If the seat is too far forward, you will feel cramped with your knees coming into your chest. If the seat is too far back, your knees will fully extend, placing undue stress on the knee joints.
Place both feet on the pedals and begin pedaling. This will activate the display.
Press the "Quick Start" or "Enter" button to set the bike in manual mode. This mode allows you to manually control the tension of the pedals -- the higher the tension, the more challenging the workout. Press the up arrow button to increase the pedal tension or press the down arrow button to decrease it.
Choose a built-in program if you want the bike to change the settings for you. This option offers the best of both worlds -- the bike automatically adjusts the settings while you focus on that magazine you've been wanting to read. You have the option of overriding the settings at any time by pressing one of the arrow buttons. The display will prompt you to choose the length and type of program. Steady-state routines maintain the same pedal tension and speed for long periods and are low to moderately-intense workouts. Interval routines, which are shorter but more intense, change the tension and speed every 30 to 90 seconds, alternating between moderate and very hard bouts of exercise.
Incorporate a cardio workout into your schedule three to five times per week. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five days per week or 20 minutes of intense activity three days per week.
- Some recumbent bikes have a step-through design -- you do not have to swing your leg over the frame to sit on the bike. Look for this style of recumbent bike if you have balance issues or difficulty lifting your legs.
- The built-in programs include a warmup and cool-down. If you use manual mode, make sure to start with a five-minute warmup and finish with a five-minute cool-down.
- Consult a physician before beginning any exercise program.
Based in Austin, Texas, Jolie Johnson has been in the fitness industry for over 12 years and has been writing fitness-related articles since 2008 for various websites. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and philosophy from the University of Illinois.