Exercise bikes, or exercise cycles as they are sometimes known as, are designed to help improve your cardiovascular fitness.
Most stationary exercise bikes are used as part of a general fitness regime, and are used extensively in Fitness Centres or at home. Exercise bikes are also used extensively for physical therapy as they provide a safe and low impact form of exercise suitable for many forms of physical rehabilitation.
Exercise bikes remain one of the most popular types of fitness products, with a wide variety on offer starting at relatively modest prices. Exercise bikes can be split into three main categories: which are the most common style, Recumbent and Semi-Recumbent Exercise Bikes
where your back is supported and legs closer in alignment to your hips, and finally Studio cycles
(also known as spin cycles) which are often used in group exercise classes at the gym, but are increasingly being used by consumers at home. As with all exercise and gym equipment, the more money you invest in your exercise bike, the better the quality will be. More expensive exercise cycles will generally feature electronic braking systems and/or a heavier flywheel that contributes to a much smoother pedaling action, particularly as you increase the resistance (gears). Such premium products will also be more durable and are likely to feature on-board computer technology designed to provide a more productive workout that in turn will more effectively motivate you to achieve your fitness goals.
If you are considering purchasing an exercise cycle, the first thing you need to determine is the type i.e. upright, recumbent or studio.
On upright exercise cycles you will be positioned in a conventional upright cycling posture. Upright cycles will suit most people, however certain health circumstances merit consideration of recumbent designs.
Recumbent and semi recumbent exercise bikes place you in a more horizontal position, are easier to mount and dismount and have a seat with a back support. Recumbent cycles deliver benefits to users of all levels of physical ability, and they are especially well suited to people with mobility problems, deconditioned people, pregnant women, sufferers from high blood pressure, and people suffering from a range of back problems. Such considerations, along with seat adjustments and saddle comfort should feature in any decision you make when buying an exercise cycle.
Studio cycles are typical of the design you find in use at group indoor cycling classes in fitness centres. This type of indoor cycling is often know as Spinning
. Studio cycle design tends to feature a larger and heavier flywheel often (but not always) of a fixed crank design. Saddles tend to be more akin to racing cycle designs, and much of the workout is done out of the saddle. Some recent designs feature moving handle bars (mountain bike style) and workouts are often done in a group class lead by a specialist class teacher and in conjunction with music, and sometimes video. Experienced users are now also using studio cycles at home.
When buying an exercise cycle, you should also consider the pedaling action that should remain smooth throughout the range of resistance, even at the highest level.
In order to achieve your fitness goals, you should also carefully consider the functionality, range of programme options and digital feedback you receive on performance. The best products will feature an on board exercise computer with pre-programmed workouts that will simulate rolling hills, with specific workout programmes that will vary resistance over time. Such programmes can also incorporate personal data such as your age, weight, gender and heart rate, to ensure your workout remains within a given heart rate training zone. In addition to having clear safety benefits, this type of fitness training is more targeted towards specific fitness objectives such as weight loss, or endurance. In short, the best examples of exercise bikes featuring this type of technology will significantly assist you in achieving your fitness goals – your investment will reward you with real results.
You should also consider where you are going to locate your exercise bike; this may determine the size of machine you buy and also whether it is mains powered, or self powered. And as with all consumer products please consider build quality – this is an important investment which should reward you with many years of enjoyable service and will successfully maintain or improve your fitness.