Fitness and Health Exercise Equipment
                                 An informational guide to selecting high-quality fitness and health exercise equipment.

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Exercise Bikes

Choosing an Exercise Bike

    Exercise bikes used to be very simple mechanical devices. They were basically just a bicycle without a back wheel and the front tire encountered a simple resistance mechanism to make pedaling the exercise bike more difficult. Fairly elementary device.

   Things have changed since then. Today, exercise bikes offer all sorts of features and benefits that make riding a bike and burning calories more efficient and fun.

More Affordable Exercise Bikes

   There are some very affordable exercise bike choices in today's market. Some of these exercise bikes offer a magnetic resistance and some allow you to sit in your own comfortable easy chair and use the spinner for your legs or your arms.

Look at what makes the stationary exercise bike more user friendly than many other cardio machines:

Usability and comfort

     Well-made exercise bikes have comfortable seats that also are particularly good for accommodating overweight people. The cycling motion is natural for most people and easy to perform. It is very easy to read while cycling on an exercise bike, because you are already sitting with your hands free and not bobbing up and down. Recumbent models (seat is lower and your legs stretch our in front rather than down) provide a comfortable position for most people who suffer low back pain.


Getting a good workout on a stationary bike

     Exercise Bikes have externally applied resistance for you to work against rather than working against your own weight. This is helpful for people who are getting started and whose own weight may be too much to work against. Adjustable resistance mechanisms can accommodate a range of intensity levels. Pulling up and pushing down on pedal toe clips also increases intensity of workout. On the upright model, more intensity can be achieved by periodically standing upright and pedaling.

More for your money

      Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., world renowned fitness expert, points out that stationary exercise bikes are generally less expensive and more durable. He says a good one can last for decades with only occasional minor maintenance.

  Mega G5 Exercise Bike
The Mega G5 Magnetic Upright Cycle offers a modern appearance that complements any home while taking up very little space. The fully enclosed 7kg flywheel has a high transmission ratio to ensure smooth pedaling. The motivating electronic monitor and hand grip pulse sensors allow you to follow your progress through your workout.
--Permanent magnetic braking system
--High inertia flywheel ensures exceptionally
   smooth pedaling
--V-Belt drive system
--Resistance range of 25 to 400 watts with a
   spin ration of 4.64:1
   Index controlled 5 function computer

Safety concerns

     Exercise bikes are a safe and time-tested piece of equipment. In particular, studies from the Journal of the American Geriatric Society found that stationary exercise bikes are safe for older people (68-85) and don't cause pain in their joints. Exercise bikes put very little stress on the knees as compared to other machines and actual aerobic activities. They also provide a safe workout during pregnancy and the seat is even pretty comfortable for most pregnant women.

     Sounds great, doesn't it? There must be some drawback to the exercise cycle. Alas, there are two drawbacks, but they are conditional. First, unless the model has movable arms, an exercise cycle works only the lower body. Second, the upright model can be uncomfortable for people with low back pain. However, the recumbent model generally provides a comfortable ride for these people, though this model may slow you down and reduce the intensity of your workout.

    All in all, the exercise bike is recommended by many fitness experts. "A good indoor cycle is my first recommendation for at-home exercise equipment," writes Dr. Westcott in his article "Selecting Exercise Equipment."

So, what makes a good indoor exercise cycle?

     First and foremost, the exercise bike should be comfortable for you to ride, so the seat has to be padded to your liking. After that, here's the list:


    A comfortable seat and adjustable parts and resistance controls are the major factors of your comfort. It's important that you be able to adjust the exercise bike to your own size at the beginning of your workout and easily adjust the resistance during your workout. You should also be comfortable even late in the workout. Since sustained aerobic activity is the ideal, you want to be able to ride this bike for up to 30 or 60 minutes and still be comfortable.

   Models with electronic brakes will automatically adjust resistance to help you maintain a constant workload when you change your pedaling speed. Mechanical brakes, however, allow you to increase the work rate by pedaling faster.

A smooth ride

   An exercise bike that uses a friction belt or wind resistance to provide resistance will give you the smoothest ride, according to Bryant Stamford, Ph.D., in his article in the The Physician and Sportsmedicine. He advises people to avoid rubber pincers that grip the wheel as a resistance mechanism because they cause a jerky ride.

   A model with a front wheel weighing 25 to30 pounds is more stable than models with lighter front wheels.

Intensity levels

    Though it isn't mandatory for a good workout or a well-made machine, a monitor that tells you your target heart rate and monitors your current heart rate can help you keep up the intensity during your workout. Movable arm cranks or handlebars are also a feature that will allow for increased intensity and calorie burning. Although arm cranks help you burn more calories and get a total workout, Dr. Stamford warns that the racing handle bars on some models require you to bend forward which can be uncomfortable for some people. Pedal clipsare one more element that help make the workout more intense, because they allow your legs to pull as well as push the pedals.

Safety concerns

   If you have small children, consider a model with a chain guard and solid front wheel to protect children's fingers from the chain and the spokes.

Making a good selection

    So, you are going to the store tomorrow to find an exercise bike. What do you do?

    Stop! Rent one first. Look in the yellow pages under "exercise equipment." You can rent an exercise bike for 30 days for about $30. Most places even rent top of the line models. You'll know within 30 days if this bike is going to get much use.

    If you must go to the store today, ask if you can rent a machine first. And, if you must buy one immediately, at least follow Dr. Stamford's advice and wear workout gear to the store and try out the bike. While riding the bike in the store go through the above list of what makes a good exercise cycle. And don't forget to listen to how much noise it makes. You don't want a machine that will wake the neighbors or drown out the television or the radio.

    One last bit of advice: Make sure you have room for the bike you choose. You don't want your exercise equipment to displace your couch.


Copyright 2009 ProFitness Exercise Equipment