Cycling is generally considered to be one of the best, most efficient and most enjoyable forms of exercise for young and middle-aged people and, even more importantly, for seniors looking for a great way to improve their mobility and overall health. When it comes to choosing physical activities that are suitable for seniors, it is very important to select exercise that is not too strenuous for sensitive joints and can be safely pursued by people suffering from health issues such as obesity or arthritis.
Cycling is certainly one of the activities that meet all the above requirements. What’s more, cycling not only trains the entire body, but it is also a varied and safe form of activity – when cycling outdoors, you can enjoy the fresh air and the scenery, but this exercise is just as rewarding when done indoors, on an upright stationary bike or on a recumbent bike. There are several special features to cycling that make it an excellent choice for seniors:
- it is a low-impact exercise, so it does not strain the joints
- even the shortest ride will make you feel better
- it improves blood circulation, lung function and muscle tone even when done slowly (on the lowest setting, in case of a stationary bike).
There is one very common objection to cycling, though: to be able to enjoy it outside, you depend on the weather to a great extent. Well, this is true only for outdoor cycling – with the modern stationary or recumbent bikes designed for home use, you can hop on your bike any time you want and you can enjoy the benefits of a quick ride even when it is pouring outside. Home exercise bikes can be used whenever you feel like and the results are almost instantly noticeable, so if you are convinced and you would like to know how to select the right exercise bike, here are a few tips and suggestions.
What to Look for in an Exercise Bike
Out of the two major types of indoor bikes – upright and recumbent – it is recumbent variant that is more recommended for seniors due to the special design that relieves the user’s back from any strain. However, both types are equally efficient when it comes to improving health and fitness. You can also get spin bikes which are upright exercise bikes that use a fly wheel which makes it feel more like road cycling. I would not normally recommend these to seniors because even the best spin bikes have a learning curve to get used to exercising on.
Here are the most important features you should pay attention to when out shopping for an exercise bike:
- The seat – you need a bike that is comfortable to sit on, so make sure the seat is suitably sized for your body proportions and provides sufficient cushioning and support. Recumbent bikes usually come with larger seats and they also provide lumbar support that makes usage even more comfortable
- Adjustability – the best bike for you is one that can be adjusted to your exact height, the length of your arms and legs. You should choose a bike that comes with adjustable resistance to be able to increase or decrease the intensity of your workouts as well. Many bikes have adjustable pedals, too, so if your feet are too thin or too large, make sure you check the bikes for that feature, too
- Overall size – exercise bikes vary in size, but they are all bulky objects that take up a fair amount of space in the room. Recumbent bikes are a bit larger than upright bikes, so make sure you measure the space where you want to place your new bike before you commit to a purchase
- Cost – exercise bikes can cost anything from a few hundred dollars upwards, but the best stationary or recumbent bike for seniors is not necessarily the most complex and the most expensive one. Expensive bikes usually incorporate complex electronics, lots of programming options and add-ons that you will not necessarily use to the fullest. Before buying your bike, consult the shop assistant or read the product description, then choose a bike that includes only the functions that you consider useful.
Three of the Best Exercise Bikes for Seniors
Modern exercise bikes come with lots of great features to make training efficient, enjoyable, safe and pain-free. When looking for a bike to be successfully used by seniors, seating position, cushioning, adjustability and joint protection are probably the most important features to look for – here are three bikes that fit the bill perfectly, providing highly efficient workout and great results without straining the user’s back and joints.
Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike
The Schwinn 270 offers superior padding on the vented seat and a contoured leg area for even more comfort. The walk-through frame of the bike guarantees easy access and the unit also comes with lots of great adjustable features – the seat is placed on rails and its position can be adjusted with comfortable levers and the bike also comes with a 3-speed fan. The Schwinn 270 incorporates lots of tracking functions as well – the large LCD displays 13 different feedbacks, there are 25 available resistance levels and 29 programs to choose from, allowing the user to finely tune the intensity of the workout.
This recumbent has been designed to offer cardio exercise of maximum efficiency while also protecting the joints. It includes a Magnetic Tension Control System that allows the rider to customize training intensity and it also comes with a large, easy to read LCD display that shows you how much distance you have covered, how many calories you have burned as well as information related to your speed, your heart rate and the time you have spent cycling.
Nautilus R614 Recumbent Bike
Another very comfortable and versatile exercise bike, the Nautilus R614 also offers superior joint protection and great customizable features. The design of the unit provides maximum comfort during your rides – the seating has been designed to allow for a relaxing position and the lower-back support prevents any strain to your back. The bike incorporates 20 resistance levels, 22 programs and two large LCD monitors to display your results. The vented seat slides on aluminum rails and can be easily adjusted with the help of levers.
Whichever one you choose out of the three models, you can be sure you will enjoy your workout sessions to the fullest.