I run into a lot of people nursing injuries, or limited by joint issues. Unfortunately, as soon as someone is injured they often quit exercising altogether – but there is hope! It’s called a stationary bike.
If you have ever been to a rehabilitation center, you know physical therapist rely heavily on Stationary Bikes. It gets the patient’s joints moving without extra weight on the joint, it’s safe (less chance of falling off a bike than a treadmill) and it exercises the heart and lunges.
If you are unable to do weight bearing exercise (like walking, running or doing the elliptical), using a stationary bike is a great alternative – IF you use it right.
Here are 4 ways to peddle your way to fitness success.
1. Learn proper set-up. Have you ever seen a big person on a little bike. It looks ridiculous doesn’t it? Well, it’s not just silly looking, it’s dangerous. Before you begin your workout, adjust the seat where your legs comfortably stretch out to reach the peddles. When your leg is stretched out all the way, your leg should only have a slight bend without locking the knee out at full extension. If you are bike shopping, don’t cut corners just to save money. Cheap bikes often are tipsy and not as comfortable. Your health is worth the investment. Look for a wide base, comfortable seat, heart rate monitor, built-in workout programs and sturdy framing to make your workout more enjoyable.
2. No coasting. Many people get on a bike like they are going out for some kind of joy ride instead of actually working out. They peddle slowly, as if that is going to do something miraculous. Maybe it’s because they are comfortable. With recumbent bikes these days, bikes have nice cushy backs on the seat and even arm rests, so no wonder you may start yawning! You can’t coast your way to success. Ride like you are going somewhere.
3. Peddle with purpose. I see some people hop on the bike and mentally leave the planet into some far off land. If you want your bike exercise to change your body, and your health, you need to have a gang plan. Many bikes, like the NordicTrac GX 5.4, have built in workout programs. The GX 3 actually has 23 programs to choose from, so you could practically have a fresh new workout every time you ride throughout each month! If your bike has programs, USE THEM! Don’t just peddle at your own pace, use the programs to train and challenge you.
4. Track your heart rate. Your heart rate is the most accurate way to determine how hard you are working. First, find out your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age). Then, multiple that number by your desired target heart rate. 60-70% for beginners, 70-80% for intermediate training and 80-90% for advanced training. Interval workouts are even more effective for fat burning and conditioning. Interval workouts are when you exercise at a high peak of 80-90% of your maximum heart rate, followed by a recovery period at a lower heart rate. For example, 1 minute at 80-90%, followed by 2 minutes at 70-80% for a high intensity workout, or 2 minutes at 70-80% of your maximum heart rate followed by 3 minutes at 60-70% for a moderate intensity workout.