Tips on Buying an Exercise Bike
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Benefits of Cardiovascular Fitness
We all know that cardio health is important, but do you know just how much? Your cardiovascular system has three components (i.e., heart, blood vessels, and blood transporter), and it plays an important role in maintaining homeostasis in your body which is the healthy regulation of all your bodily systems. Some of its functions include:
- Maintenance of body temperature by absorbing and distributing heat.
- Sustaining fluid volume to prevent dehydration.
- Regulation of pH to control alkalosis and acidosis.
- Transportation of oxygenated blood from the lungs to all the cells of your body.
- Distribution of nutrients to the cells of your body.
- Delivery of enzymes and hormones to control physiological function.
- Removal of metabolic waste for elimination.
By treating your cardiovascular system with care, you will be doing yourself a favor. In fact, you could even increase your life expectancy by years, if not decades. You will have more energy and prevent a host of diseases:
- high blood pressure
- cardiovascular disease
- diabetes mellitus
Not only does the summer 2012 issue of Canadian Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing report that physical activity lowers cardiac disease, a host of other scientific journals have reported the benefits of cardiovascular fitness, especially when using the exercise bike. The July 2012 issue of Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology reported that cardiovascular exercise can even improve cognition. The study investigated the neuropsychological effects of exercise amongst older adults with diabetes of 8 different retirement communities in New York state. For thee to six months, they used the exercise bike five times per week for 45 minutes per session. Improvements were excellent according to the study.
Another study reported by the journal of Cerebrovascular Diseases (February 2013) revealed strong evidence that cardiovascular exercise is beneficial for enhancing physical, psychosocial, and cognitive domains. The systematic review examined aerobic exercise in stroke patients with 25 trials studies, and the most commonly adopted exercises used were aerobic training with the exercise bike and treadmill over the course of three to six months for 21 to 40 minutes per session, three to five days per week.
Pediatrics Obesity (February 2013) even reported that aerobic exercise training has benefits not only on cardiovascular health, but also on reducing abdominal fat. Forty-three adolescents were tested for a six month period. Though low-intensity cardio exercise showed fat loss results, high-intensity aerobic exercise proved more loss of body fat.
As you can see, the benefits of cardiovascular fitness is so important. The exercise bike is a great tool to be used for this form of exercise. You will also strengthen your legs, hips, and glutes as you also strengthen your heart and improve your cognition and body composition. Following are some features that you may want to consider when buying your best bike.
Exercise Bike Styles
There are many types of exercise bikes that you may choose from. You are most likely familiar with the regular bicycle that moves on wheels down streets or walkways. Though you may use the regular bicycle for exercise, we are going to focus on exercise or stationary bikes in this hub. Besides, you don't have to wear helmets or knee pads with stationary bikes.
There are three specific types of exercise bikes:
- Upright Bike - This style is the traditional exercise bike with a conventional cycling position. It is usually more compact than the recumbent bike.
- Recumbent Bike - This style has you sitting in a reclined position, and the seat is usually wider and more padded, which may be more comfortable. However, you may have to work a little harder to pedal. The recumbent bike is ideal for users who are either overweight, have back problems, knee problems, plantar fasciitis, or are recovering from illness.
- Spinning Bike - This style is ideal for high-intensity workouts. It is less comfortable than the upright and recumbent bikes. It is the ideal exercise piece for the fitness enthusiast.
Programming Displays May Include:
- heart rate
- calories burned
- revolutions per minute (RPM)
- resistance levels
- training program
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Buying a Bicycle: Choosing the Right Features
Exercise bikes have many different features. When buying a bicycle, choose one that will include as many features you feel are necessary and within your budget. They can range anywhere from $200 on up to $2,500. The higher priced bikes will have more "bells and whistles" than the lower priced ones. If you have a limited budget, you will want to choose wisely.
- Size - Make sure you measure the space you intend to place your exercise bike. You will want to make sure it fits. Nothing is worse than purchasing it, having it delivered, and then realizing you just don't have the space for it. Also, add at least two to three feet on the dimension width to give yourself some leg and elbow room. The recumbent and spinning bikes will also be more compact than the recumbent bike.
- Weight - The sturdier the bike, the heavier it will be. Some bikes can weigh 100 to 200 pounds. You may opt to have the store deliver and set it up within your home. Some stores may charge a few extra dollars for this option. Or, you may opt for some friends to help you if it's over the weight capacity you can handle yourself.
- Comfort - If comfort is important to you, you may want to physically test out the bike before purchasing. Most sporting goods stores carry several different types and brands. Even if you plan to order it online, you can still test them out at the stores to get an idea of exactly what you're looking for. Recumbent bikes will have much bigger (and sometimes padded) seats than upright or spinning bikes. They are also ideal for those who have a little extra weight, back problems, or other injuries with legs, knees, or feet. Test the handle position as well. Most exercise bikes have handles in front where the programming panel is (chest height), as well as next to the seat on both sides. Finally, you'll want to make sure you have an adjustable seat. Depending on your height or the length of your legs, you want to make sure you can reach the pedals or not bump into the handles with your knees
- Programming Display - The programming display should be easy to use. Nothing is more frustrating than purchasing an exercise bike and not knowing how to use it correctly. You may also want to check these out when you test drive at stores.
- Programming - Many exercise bikes have built-in trainers where you can choose the type of workout you would like to do: high-intensity, low-intensity, fat-burning, etc. Adjustable and manual routines can be programmed as well. If you choose one that has built-in trainers, make sure it considers your age, weight, and gender to program training that fits you specifically.
- Resistance - The lower priced exercise bikes will most likely have manual resistance. This is usually easy to change while you are not using the bike. However, it can be inconvenient if you're exercising and wanting to change in the middle of your program. Therefore, you may want to opt for electronic resistance.
- Heart Rate Monitor - Most exercise bikes have hand-held heart rate monitors (on handles). Be aware that many are fickle about how you place your hands and may not read correctly due to sweat, oils, etc. Certain brands are better than others. Therefore, you may want to check these out when you go shopping. Certain brands also have telemetry-enabled heart rate monitors. If you have a heart rate monitor that you use that is not attached to the bike like a Polar or Garmin heart band and watch system, the telemetry system will pick up from it.
- Warranty - Most new bikes come with a limited warranty. However, you may purchase extended warranties at the store or through the manufacturer. The manufacturer warranties are usually more economical. Some will even reimburse you if you contact them just prior to expiration if you have never made any claims.
Purchasing the best bike for you doesn't have to be difficult. Just prioritize the features that are most important to you and within your budget. Nothing is more important than taking care of yourself. Just remember all of the benefits of cardiovascular fitness discussed at the beginning of this hub.
About the author
Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author. For the past 10 years, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds, reclaimed health, and call her “Coach No Gimmick.” She is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. Abby has been married for 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of which is autistic. She is a 19 year cancer survivor.
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