If you are looking for a low-impact cardio workout, the pedal exerciser or the stationary bike will satisfy your needs. Both pieces of equipment use a pedaling motion to get you an excellent workout, and you can do either in the comfort of your own home. While the motions used for the pedal exerciser and the stationary bike are similar, the two pieces of equipment are very different in function, design and features.
The pedal exerciser has only two pedaling options. In a seated position, you set the pedal exerciser on the floor in front of your feet and pedal with your feet. You can also set the pedal exerciser on a table or desk and pedal with your arms. The stationary bike is more sophisticated compared to the pedal exerciser. It mimics the movements of an outdoor bicycle but is made for indoor use. With a stationary bike, you pedal with your legs and don’t move your upper body. You have the option of increasing the intensity of the stationary bike to provide a better cardio workout -- something you cannot do with a pedal exerciser.
A pedal exerciser is a simple production, which consists of a small frame that supports the pedals. The pedal exerciser does not include a seat, which is convenient for storage and is a portable option compared to the stationary bike. Stationary bikes come in two designs: recumbent and upright, and both place less stress on the joints, according to the American Council on Exercise. With a recumbent bike, you are in a partially reclined position, and your legs stretch forward to reach the pedals. This offers you a fully supported position for your back. The upright bike is closely related to a regular outdoor bike, where you are in an upright seated position with your legs pedaling downward.
While you can find a pedal exerciser with a small display monitor that shows your workout time, speed and distance, many pedal exercisers are basic with few technology features. Depending on the type of pedal exerciser, most have a knob on the top of the exerciser that can add tension to the pedaling motion. This is a way to increase the intensity. Stationary bikes tend to have more features such as preset programming, electronic consoles and displays that show all of your workout information, including speed, distance, calories burned and the amount of time you’ve exercised. Most stationary bikes have digital resistance, which is located on the console, to adjust the intensity of the workout.
Both pieces of equipment are great for those who suffer from joint pain, back pain or arthritis, since they have little to no impact on the joints. However, the pedal exerciser can be used and stored under your desk at work, making it a convenient alternative to the stationary bike. The pedal exerciser tends to be less expensive compared to a stationary bike. With a stationary bike, you have more features, such as the display monitor, more resistance and more preset programs.
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.