One of the best ways to get that cardio in, enhance lower body muscles, lessen lower back pain and do it all with very low impact is cycling. But with the weather being what it is, and busy lives being what they are, the next best thing, or maybe the better than best thing is a few laps around the virtual track on a recumbent exercise bike.
An advantage of recumbent biking is the posture the rider assumes. Since the recumbent bike is pressed against the backrest with legs in front of the torso, instead of beneath, there’s a level of comfort that’s not provided by upright exercise bikes or bicycles. Moreover, with increases in technology, even the least expensive recumbent model offers multiple resistance levels. While that feature can be found on most upright bikes, as well, your street bike can’t match this feature.
Unless you pedal to the mountains or roll into the mud, you can’t come close to some of the workouts provided by a recumbent. Even then, you don’t have the luxury of making your trek harder or easier; you’re at the mercy of the terrain. An added benefit offered with resistance feature variety and number is the recumbent bike’s adaptability to all levels of fitness. And the term “levels of fitness” doesn’t solely mean the sofa spud versus the tumbling tumbleweed. Imagine being in fine form one day, and dragging like a turtle missing morning coffee on another.
The ability to adjust workouts for the individual as well as those at opposite ends of the exercise enthusiasm scale immediately makes recumbent bikes more attractive to purchasers. A final note in favor of the recumbent exercise bike: while you’re pedaling along, racing the wind and conquering peaks, you can read, watch YouTube or the old-fashioned boob tube, turn up the tunes, and if you’re really good, knit a sweater. The advantage to this is decreased boredom. Less boredom leads to higher production, and more production, in this case, leads to a healthier you.
With an upright exercise bike, you’re forced to grip the handlebars and hold your head awkwardly. Granted your street bike doesn’t have the boredom issue attached, but the recumbent provides the best of both worlds, and no one says you have to give up your bicycle outings. In fact, the recumbent will enhance your enjoyment and ability when you get back on that “two-wheeler”. The last hurdle for the potential recumbent exercise bike owner: How will you ever decide which model to buy? The answer is both easy and not so easy.
As with any large appliance purchase, you want to:
1) Consider your budget (prices range from just below $200 to more than $2000 – remember you’re not going to enjoy your bike if you feel guilty every time you sit on it).
2) Talk to people who own recumbent bikes (get their opinions about the models they chose and find out what they wish their recumbent had that it doesn’t).
3) Read online reviews.
4) Poll fitness trainers or other athletes for their advice.
5) Rate the importance you place on each of the features (ergonomics (can you comfortably pedal like Lance Armstrong or do you feel as though your side saddle on a bucking bronco?) resistance levels, display clarity and ease of use, ease or difficulty when adjusting a routine, heart rate monitor, seat cushioning, (water) bottle holder, book rest, etc.).
6) Drive before you buy (play with the display features, pedal fast, pedal slow, push up the resistance, measure your heart rate, change programs mid-stream, in short, do everything you would do when looking to purchase a car). One last thing – congratulations on your new recumbent exercise bike and happy pedaling to you!