Getting to Know Your Recumbent Exercise Bike
Getting older has made me realize that doing and eating the same, as I did in the past, is truly a recipe for disaster. Back in my 20s and early 30s, I would eat whatever and whenever I wanted….and I still lost weight. It is kind of scary to look at my employee photo from about 10 years ago. I had a thin face and bright smile and was fairly trim for my size. All that started to diminish in my early 30s. I continued to eat the same amount and noticed my weight started to creep up slowly at first. This amount of weight gain increased as my age crept up and my physical activity started to diminish. Not surprisingly, my clothes started feeling a little tighter and all of a sudden sweat pants were feeling better than the snug jeans. I finally realized that without some intervention in my cardio workout, I would soon start being compared to Jabba the Hut. Needless to say, I started riding a recumbent exercise bike.
Most of my friends ride bicycles through the urban and country landscapes. I decided not to go that route as I might have in the past. Some of my friends have felt abandoned by my choice. They expected me to pick up a trendy road bike and make it out on the roadways for hours at a time with them. While it sounded like a great idea when first brought up, I put tremendous thought into my purchase decision. My final decision was preceded by a long internal battle but there was a very thorough analysis of what was important to me.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
My journey started out, about a year ago, when I figured I need to jump start my cardio workouts. I did what most people do and obtained a membership to the local gym and “got the party started”. While some people are familiar with them but I always seemed to get at least one weird stare by someone at the gym each time I exercised. Almost all people are familiar with the upright exercise bike which mimics the look and feel of a “normal” bicycle. The recumbent bike version is much different in look and feel than the upright. The following analysis details some of the most important elements that make this the right choice for me.
First and foremost, safety was my largest concern. As I am getting older, the time it takes me to mend has increased ten-fold not to mention my family is of the utmost importance. During my teen years, I could fall from a bike, moderately injure myself and then be back riding within a couple of days. Nowadays, there is a couple of month recuperation time before I can make it back on the bike.
While I know that I am pretty competent as a rider, there is always the possibility that I could get injured by hitting a pothole, fall after not paying attention to the road, or just slide on some loose gravel. This could lead to a nasty injury. My larger concern to roadway safety has to do with the people that I am sharing the road with. It is not too uncommon to find people that are not biker-friendly or even pay attention to us on the roadways. I have had friends that ended up in several ditches and severely injured in these types of incidents.
Along the same vein, there are times when I am not able to get out for a ride until the late evening hours or wee morning hours when it is pitch black outside. Now while that does lead to a level of danger as noted above, there is an additional element with some of the areas surrounding my home. I do not necessarily want to be in those areas alone on a bike late at night.
All of these safety concerns have been satisfied by the purchase of my recumbent exercise bike. I can now stay in the comfort of my own home. In fact, I positioned the bike close to my large screen television so that I can kill two birds with one stone. While riding for the hour or longer, I can catch up on the day’s news, weather and even an occasional reality television show. Moreover, I can go riding when I first get up or late into the night when I need to have a boost in energy. Rain, snow, sleet, hail or wind no longer impact my ability to knock out some cardio. Now I have the opportunity to jump on my bike and pedal away for an hour and slowly watch my worries and concerns slip away.
Time and Money Savings
Next, I save a tremendous amount of money by having the bike inside the home. No longer do I need to pay a gym membership to use a bike at a facility. This along has saved me thousands of dollars per year but this is only the tip of the iceberg for the time and money savings. There also is the cost of getting to the gym. This cost included the cost of gas, depreciation and wear and tear on my vehicle. Moreover, there is no longer any “transportation time cost” since I just need to transport myself to the spare bedroom where the recumbent exercise bike is located. There was an initial outlay of cash when I was investigating the bike that I was ultimately going to purchase. In fact, I did hire several different exercise bikes (rental) for several months at a time until I came upon the one that I purchased for the home. I wanted to make sure that I would be satisfied with my purchase and not have “buyer’s remorse”. This cost several hundred dollars but lead to a great final decision.
Another important criteria that needs to be investigated prior to your purchase decision is the amount of available space. Everybody has the “perfect” spot for their new exercise equipment but fail to realize the amount of space that is required. A personal story about this issue was when I moved into my current home and purchased the “perfect” couch. Everything was fine until the delivery truck showed up with the couch. It made it into the garage without an issue. It became a problem when they tried to move it through the front door. It didn’t fit! Not to worry we will take off the footings. With a little pushing and aggravation, the couch made it inside the door. The story does not stop there unfortunately. The couch was placed inside the room where I wanted but it did not fit. I had forgotten to do an accurate measurement of the area before purchase. To make a long story short, I had to return the couch and get a not so perfect alternative.
When it comes to an exercise bike, the decision should not be too much of a problem if you live in a reasonably large home. On the other hand, if you live an in apartment or smaller type of home you should give this a lot of thought. I learned my lesson with couch debacle and measured the area several times before my purchase. I even made a cardboard cut out and made a layout of the room to ensure that the exercise bike would be a perfect fit. It is not too difficult to do this because the manufacturers provided a “footprint” dimensions. Make sure you do this otherwise you could wind up with the “perfect” bike but not enough room to accommodate it.
The recumbent is much more ergonomic and more of a perfect fit based on how the body works. They have frame that works with the body as it was designed. This in turn puts a person into in a position to have the maximum fitness results. Furthermore, some recumbent bikes are designed with seat/saddle that is designed for creating the maximum return on investment for those that take their exercise routine seriously.
While some believe that all recumbent exercise bikes are the same, this is not the case and this important point cannot be stressed enough. The main point of purchasing a new piece of fitness equipment is to get the best workout that helps to lose some weight and increase your fitness level. The bottom line is that all the products out there are definitely not created equal with many of the higher end models coming with extra features making for a more effective workout.
An example of the above comes down to the level of resistance levels that are available for the different bikes. The higher end bikes will normally have significantly more levels so that you can “dial in” a workout which will match what level of fitness that you are looking to achieve and satisfy the goals that you set. Additionally, some of the bikes will have programs that are custom designed by the manufacturer to provide increased fitness or target weight loss. Further, some provide the ability to set up custom individual plans with your own parameters. All of this increased functionality increase the user experience and give you the feeling that you you’re your own personal trainer on staff.
Most people will also want to keep track of their heart rate while they exercise. This is important because science has proven that exercise that doesn’t significantly raise your heart rate towards its maximum and away from rest levels does not have any significant impact on fitness level and certainly doesn’t burn much excess calories. This means you’ll want a recumbent bike that keeps you informed on where your heart rate is as you exercise so you can adjust the difficulty level (resistance) accordingly for maximum benefit from your workout.
Finally, some bikes offer extra add-ons that enhance the experience while doing your workout. Some add-ons like connection to Ipods, internal speakers and flat screens can give the person doing the riding time to stay on longer and not realize how much time that they have spent on the bike. Furthermore, some upbeat rhythms really do tend to improve workout quality and get a good pace going but whatever genre motivates you most will likely get you to perform best and maximize the benefit of your exercise sessions.
Features/Addons to look for:
- Connection to Ipod
- Internal Speakers
- Flat Screens
- Heart Monitors
- Incline Adjustors
- Folding Decks
The final element that should factor into your purchase decision is pricing. You could spend a couple hundred dollars for a very simple bike all the way to several thousands of dollars for some of the premium versions. Most of us do not have a budget to accommodate the higher end bikes. Some may choose to the do the same as I started my journey and hire a treadmill. This gave me the opportunity to try out several different types with different features to see which was the best for me and my situation. After hiring the exercise bike for a little while then it is time to make you decision. You might be ready to purchase the cheaper model with less frills just so you can get the job done. On the flip side, you might be ready to spend some extra money and get the super deluxe model and enjoy the better things in life. Either way this will be a personal decision based upon your ability to pay for your new exercise bike.
Choosing a recumbent exercise bike should not be something that you take lightly. There are many factors that will go into the purchase. While some or all of the factors that I listed above might not be important to you, make sure you look and see what factors will make a difference in your life. After you do your own detailed analysis, you will never go wrong with your purchase. What it comes down to is this, if you are looking to work on your physical fitness, you cannot go wrong with a recumbent. It has definitely surpassed all my expectations and helped me overcome my “battle with the bulge”. Needless to say I am 15 pounds lighter than I was before and hope to never have to wear another pair of sweat pants as my work uniform!