Recumbent Stationary Bikes
Great combination of cardio and relaxation
Recumbent stationary bikes offer the same low-impact cardio exercise as upright cycles, but with what most people would consider a few improvements.
Recumbent bikes have back support, which is something many exercisers need. They are also much easier on the knees. And you’d think the calorie burn with uprights would be higher, but many reviewers mention they find they are burning more calories on a recumbent. It makes sense though, because instead of your legs pushing in a downward motion with gravity, you have to hold them parallel against gravity while pushing forward against resistance. The position of the recumbent also unblocks the hips and allows hamstrings, glutes and other muscles to engage.
- Flywheel - A strap is tightened around a flywheel to create resistance. Many bikes use a flywheel/strap combination because it can feel a lot more natural.
- Air - As you pedal large fan blades spin to create resistance.
- Magnetic resistance - Some of these bikes have to be plugged in to an outlet, but others don’t. Magnetic resistance can offer a very quiet and smooth ride.
What to look for in a recumbent bike
If you choose recumbent over upright you have to consider comfort and size. Make sure there is a padded seat, adequate back rest for your size and that the backrest can be adjusted and held in place securely. If you’re not average height make sure the entire seat can be moved closer to the pedals. These stationary bikes tend to be pricier than uprights, but many can still be purchased for under $200. Recumbent bikes are often bigger than uprights, but there are compact folding styles.
- Full or partially recumbent - Some bikes are almost in a full recline position, while others have seats slightly higher than the pedals. Decide what you prefer.
- Stability - When you really get moving on an exercise bike you don’t want it wobbling around. Make sure the bike you choose has features that stop it from moving or vibrating. Ensuring stability also means finding out what weight the bike is rated for.
- Console - Some bikes will have consoles that measure distance, speed, heart rate (with handles or straps), calories burned and more. If you like variety it’s extremely important to get a recumbent bike that has preset programs so you can do cross training or hill rides.
The bottom line
Recumbent exercise bicycles might just be the perfect exercise machines for couch potatoes - they’ll barely even have to change their position to get on one. If you absolutely despise exercise and look for any way to distract yourself while doing it, this type of machine is probably the best because you can park it in front of a television or balance a book in your lap and zone out without having to worry about being shot off the end of a treadmill belt or getting tangled up in elliptical pedals. It’s good for women who want to work hard too, as long as they stay focused.