A recumbent bike is much easier on the lower back and gentler on your joints. It is especially good for those with rheumatoid arthritis, other painful joint issues and those healing from hip or knee surgery. And, it’s is a good choice for most people with neurological conditions and any kind of impaired mobility.
There are both riding and stationary recumbent bikes. For this article we will be focusing on the stationary style. You may have seen them at the gym. But as an FYI .. here is a pic of a riding recumbent bike.
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A Recumbent bike is a bicycle with a wide seat that has a back support and is positioned so that the rider’s legs are extended horizontally forward to the pedals. Since I have one I can say they are quite comfortable which encourages me to actually use it. Here is a picture of the one I ended up with, and I have been very happy with it.
They are designed so you sit lower to the ground with your legs out in front of you rather than sitting up with your legs below you. Working out on a stationary recumbent bike has similar health benefits as regular bicycles. You can get some cardio, increase you strength without a lot of pain and you may even loose some weight.
Reasons to use a Recumbent Bike
One of the most popular features is the larger seat and back rest. This is in stark contrast to an upright exercise bike with the small set and the forward body position. They can be uncomfortable for many riders.
The recumbent bike is a safe, low impact workout that works well for all ability levels. It is also a nice option for low-impact cardio activity. They are often seen in rehab facilities for many of these reasons.
If you have back, hips or knee pain a recumbent bike reduces the pain while building strength. This is due to the reclining position which allows your weight to be distributed over your back and buttocks in a comfortable manner. It is far less painful to bike on one of these than walking if you have joint pain in the knees or hips.
A recumbent bike strengthens your muscles from a different angle than a upright stationary bike. You use the same muscle groups ( upper thighs, legs, glutes, knees and calves,) but in a different position.
They extend the angle of the knee joint so that the knee and hip aren’t flexing so much with each rotation. Thus, less hip and knee pain than many other exercises. At the same time, your still getting good exercise thru the use of your largest muscle groups ( quads, hamstrings, thighs and butt.)
Pounding on our joints while jogging may not be a good idea for those with painful arthritis or having had recent hip or knee surgery. This is especially true if we are carrying excess weight. Taking the weight off the joints while working out on the recumbent bike can be a far more pleasing experience.
It is far less overwhelming to take the stability and comfort of a recumbent bike over the balance bike for many of us. The entire position is a lot more natural feeling because the back muscle groups knees and hips don’t feel strained.
When it comes to strengthening our endurance and stamina, recumbent bikes can make a huge difference for many of us.
It stands to reason that the more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to stick with an exercise plan. Due to less pain and a comfortable position we may stay on the bike longer and return to it more regularly than we might some of the other workout equipment. And, as we know, the more you do a workout, the better your overall mental (and physical) results.
Old, young, overweight or not, in shape or out – recumbent bikes are great for nearly everyone.
Recumbent Bikes Styles
There are more than a dozen categories of recumbents with one thing in common: the sit-down position.
The main features of the bike is its shape. They feel stable and safe. They have a large, comfortable seat that makes them accommodating to the elderly and those that are overweight. However, you do not have to be either of those to enjoy the larger seat.
Most of them also have a back rest but not all of them do. Some other features can include: Adjustable tension, seats that are adjustable both horizontally and vertically, measurements for heart-rate, speed, distance, RPMs, and calories burned and some even come with a holder for your tablet. I saw some that had exercise bands attached so that you could do an arm/shoulder workout while biking.
They also vary in size and there is probably one to accommodate nearly any space. While I was researching the various recumbent bikes I found that many had the exact measurements available, which is helpful when deciding where we will place them. Some of them even fold up.
Since we are all different we each need to do a little bit of research to decide which style will work best for us. And don’t forget to watch for their warranties.
I nearly bought a fold up style, but after giving this some thought, I figured if I had to fold it up and put it away somewhere I would be less likely to drag it out and set it up every time I wanted to use it. Since I had the space, I settled for one that I set up in a spot that I have to go by it every time I go to the door. Since we have two dogs, you can guess how often that is. So far I have been getting on it 3 or 4 times a day for short periods.
FYI: You will have to assemble most, if not all of them if you have them shipped to you. The only thing we had trouble with was hooking up the tension section that slides into the housing. It took some finagling. The rest was easy.
Using the Recumbent Bike
Pacing your workout for a slower, longer ride is suggested. Especially in the beginning. It takes some getting used to, not so much for us but for our body and joints. They need to get a feel for it. We can work our way up to faster speeds with time. Upping the resistance while maintaining a strong pedal stroke gives a nice raise in your calorie burn.
A suggested pedal stroke speed for beginners was between 40 to 60 rpms for two minutes. I started with 50 at the lowest resistance and did not time it. I just did 50 reps. I do that 2 to 4 times a day thou. Better a little here and there than trying to go all out. After about 10 days I moved the resistance setting up to 2 and continue with the 50 reps.
Do you have one? I would love to hear how you like it
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