Stationary recumbent bikes allow you to get medium or high intensity exercise in a gentle manner with little or no impact on your joints. This is especially helpful if you’ve suffered a lower extremity injury or have arthritis in your hips, knees, ankles or feet. Recumbent bikes, unlike upright ones, support your lower back. Always talk to your health professional before starting a new workout program.
As opposed to other types of bikes, stationary recumbent bikes do not require you to engage your abdominal muscles during exercise. However, maintain good posture throughout your workout by keeping your spine straight and your body centered on the bike. This will help you prevent neck and back strain.
Recumbent bikes found in gyms or health centers usually have digital displays that will help you keep track of your time, distance pedaled, intensity and approximate number of calories burned. These bikes often allow you to choose a program during your workout that varies the intensity and emulates biking on flat surfaces, small hills and larger inclines. This variety can help intensify your workout so you get the most out of an exercise session. While home models are usually less expensive, they often have fewer display and intensity options.
Consistently working out on a recumbent bike can strengthen and tone your leg and butt muscles. Some models have handlebars that move, which can help tone and strengthen your arms as you ride. Because recumbent bikes specifically target your legs, engage in other forms of exercise that focus on your upper body. If the bike allows you to pedal backwards, you will not only feel the muscles in the front of your legs being exercised, but also those in your calves and the backs of your thighs.
Recumbent stationary bike workouts should be done three times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes per workout. Your heart rate should increase to between 60 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate for the duration of your workout. To calculate your target maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 30 years old, your maximum heart rate is 190, and 60 percent of that is 114, which is the lower end of your desired heart rate range while working out.
Always warm up and cool down before and after your workout to prevent injury. Do gentle exercise such as walking or slowly riding the bike for five minutes. Your workout on a recumbent bike will be less intense than it would be while on an upright stationary bike, but recumbent bikes still offer cardiovascular and muscle strengthening benefits.
Susan Presley has worked in health care journalism since 2007, and has been published in the American Journal of Nursing and other academic periodicals. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Truman State University and a Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.