Indoor exercise bikes are an easy and simple way to exercise at home for seniors. They are also very safe and affordable. Read on to find out what is the best exercise bike for seniors on the market today.
You have surely seen and tried many kinds of exercise bikes during your life and they might seem like a blast from the past to some.
But the fact is that there is no more effective home exercise equipment for improving cardiovascular health than exercise bikes. They are relatively affordable, very easy to use, and above all very safe for seniors.
Modern exercise bikes come equipped with sensors for heart rate monitoring and several programs with variable resistance patterns. They are also usually completely adjustable for ride height.
There are options for the seating position as there are recumbent bikes beside the typical exercise bikes that resemble a normal road bike in their seating posture.
You can find bikes with different kinds of resistance principles as well and it can be hard to determine which one is the best for your use. There are belt-operated, magnetic resistance, and air resistance bikes that all have their pros and cons.
If you want to skip the details and just find out the best exercise bike on the market for seniors then my recommendation is the NordicTrack Commercial VR25 Recumbent bike.
Let’s start by looking at the different kinds of bikes out there.
Types of exercise bikes
Exercise bikes have been around so long that the options for different kinds of stationary bikes these days are countless. There are options for the sitting position, sensors, programs, and the principle of how resistance is formed.
As you surely know, exercise bikes are essentially devices that consist of a stationary combination of a chassis, seat, pedals, and a mechanism to produce resistance to the pedals to simulate pedaling a real bicycle.
These days the resistance mechanism is usually computer-controlled. You can get all sorts of interesting information on the screen while you pedal. These include distance, speed, heart rate, burned calories, elevations, etc.
There are essentially two options for positioning on an exercise bike. Upright bikes are a classical form of stationary bikes where you sit in a similar upright posture as on a typical bicycle.
Recumbent bikes put your center of gravity a bit lower and change your positioning by requiring a more horizontal posture. This affects the way your hips, especially glutes, engage.
Recumbent stationary bikes are especially useful for avoiding lower back and joint pain as they are designed to support your lower back and offer a more neutral joint position when compared to a more typical upright stationary bike.
This combined with the fact that they are safer to climb on to makes them perfect for seniors. I talked more about this in the article Best Recumbent Bike For Seniors With Arthritis [With Tips].
For an exercise bike to be effective it needs to have a resistance mechanism to provide resistance while you pedal. Otherwise, cycling would be effortless and barely count as exercise.
The most simple form of resistance mechanism is a belt drive which consists of a flywheel that the pedals turn and a belt that goes over the flywheel and provides resistance through friction.
Belt resistance bikes are almost extinct these days since the resistance belt will naturally wear down gradually and form a lot of dust while it does that. Belt resistance bikes are just one variation of friction resistance mechanism. But it’s the most common. The principle is the same in all friction base resistance mechanisms. There is some for of mechanical friction on the flywheel.
The invention of magnetic resistance bikes has pretty much replaced belt drive and other types of friction mechanisms as the industry standard.
A magnetic resistance mechanism provides resistance by exerting a magnetic force on the flywheel. You see, when you move a metal disk, like the flywheel, in the vicinity of a powerful magnet, it requires work.
Due to electromagnetic principles, it’s also possible to turn the energy needed to spin the flywheel in to electricity. This makes it possible to make magnetic resistance exercise bikes wireless. They can use your pedaling work to produce enough electric energy to run the sensors, computer and screens of the bike.
The last form of resistance mechanism is air resistance. In these bikes the flywheel is actually a huge fan blade that will resist the turning of the wheel due to air resistance. This allows a very simple mechanism that offers more resistance the harder you pedal it. The downside is that they will move A LOT of air when cycling hard and can get noisy. Both of which are not really good for home use.
My recommendation for a home use bike for seniors is definitely a bike that uses a magnetic resistance mechanism. This is because it’s almost maintenance-free, doesn’t require an external power source and the resistance is easily adjustable. You can also pedal hard without excessive noise and an air stream that would turn your living room into a wind tunnel.
Why exercise bikes are perfect for seniors
So are exercise bikes a good option for seniors looking to get some exercise and improve cardiovascular conditioning? The answer is a sound yes!
Stationary exercise bikes, especially recumbent models, are an excellent way for seniors to exercise. They are very safe because they don’t require any balancing besides sitting on the seat which is conveniently situated low enough that it doesn’t require any climbing on recumbent bikes. I think an exercise bike is one of the best exercise machines for seniors.
Common reasons for seniors to avoid exercise are existing mobility and pain issues, balance issues, and fear of falling or over-exertion. Exercise bikes are optimal in the sense that they are very easy to use, they require relatively low mobility and they allow you to adjust the exertion level according to your personal needs.
Seniors with mobility and balance issues can find walking for extended periods very hard. Not to mention more intense cardio like jogging which is not possible with mobility or joint issues or if you are significantly overweight.
Exercise bikes can be used by anyone who has normal function of the legs. No matter what their exercise background and body weight is.
Recumbent exercise bikes are also very easy on the lower back as they are ergonomically designed to support the lower back. The knee and hip joint angles are also more neutral and there is naturally no impact shock on the joints like in walking and jogging.
So when it comes to exercise equipment for seniors at home, exercise bikes are one of the best investments you can make for improving cardiovascular health. Check out our tips on strength training equipment for home use.
Even if you can comfortably walk, jog or run for extended periods, exercise bikes do offer the benefit of comfort of your home.
No matter where you live, there are days or seasons that prevent effective exercise outside and for those times a stationary exercise bike is perfect. Just throw your favorite show on the TV and start cycling!
Benefits of cardio for seniors
Indoor cycling is a great form of cardiovascular exercise for seniors. While I encourage seniors to focus more on strength training here at Elder Strength, cardiovascular exercise is an important part of health and overall activity levels.
As we established before, stationary recumbent bikes are an excellent, effective and safe exercise machine for seniors to do cardiovascular exercise.
The benefits of cardio are abundant, as it improves:
- Blood lipid levels
- Cardiovascular health (heart and veins)
- Fat loss
- Muscle strength and recovery
- Bone strength
- Reduces stress levels
- Reduces systemic inflammation
There are two common ways to use cardio to improve your physical fitness. LISS and HIIT.
LISS stands for Low Intensity Steady State (exercise). It involves doing the exercise (pedaling) on a relatively low and steady intensity levels typically for extended times.
The greatest benefit of LISS is that improves endurance and offers most of the benefits of exercise in a gentle manner that doesn’t require you to push yourself very hard.
The downside is that you have to do it for an extended time to really get the benefits. Typically 15 minutes is the bare minimum and an hour is a very good amount of LISS.
The good thing is that you can watch the TV or even read while doing LISS because of the low intensity.
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. It involves doing bouts of very high-intensity exercise with lower intensity exercise in the between.
On an exercise bike you would typically pedal at a lower intensity for a minute and then at a very high intensity for a minute and then repeat this pattern several times.
The benefits of HIIT come from the very high intensity exercise. It requires you to really push your limit and causes metabolic effects similar to strength training.
When you are doing very high intensity exercise you are using your anaerobic energy production. Anaerobic exercise encourages muscle and strength growth among other benefits that exercise generally provides.
The upside of HIIT is that it requires very little time. You can do an extremely demanding workout in 15 minutes and burn the same amount of calories as you would in an hour doing LISS. Also, the overall metabolic effects are more effective than from LISS.
The downside is that you have to push yourself. Like seriously push yourself. Because the high-intensity part of HIIT needs to be done close to your absolute maximum intensity, HIIT is really hard. Due to this fact it can be hard on your cardiovascular system, increase stress levels and cause over-exertion.
This is why I don’t recommend HIIT for seniors. Only if you are in extremely good shape already should you consider it. Combining LISS with strength training will offer all the benefits of HIIT and more in a much safer and more enjoyable fashion for most people.
The best exercise bike for seniors
So now that we know what to look for in an exercise bike and why exercise bikes are a great option for doing cardio for seniors, it’s time to look at the best exercise bike on the market for seniors!
My suggestion takes into account all the points that are required from a stationary bike for seniors. It’s easy and safe to use, it’s easy to maintain and it’s also relatively affordable for the quality.
To meet the above criteria the bike needs to be recumbent and equipped with a magnetic resistance mechanism. My recommendation that meets these criteria is the NordicTrack Commercial VR25 Recumbent bike I talked about in the article Nordictrack For Seniors [Product Line-Up Review].
NordicTrack bikes are very high quality. The price might seem a bit steep compared to most affordable brands. But trust me. You want to invest in a high-quality bike.
The cheap exercise bikes you can buy at depot stores are mostly cheap knock-offs that can’t be maintained or repaired. On the other hand, a quality bike will last you a lifetime.
The VR 25 foam-covered grip handles on each side of the seat for added security. And the bike can handle user weight up to 300 lbs. The bike is also equipped with transportation wheels that make it easy to move it around so you don’t have to strain yourself if you need to move the bike for cleaning for example.
The recumbent design offers an easy step-through design that allows you to sit down effortlessly without any climbing. The performance monitor features a display of time, speed, distance, burned calories, odometer and pulse. And a holder for your smartphone.
The magnetic resistance system is equipped with several resistance levels. They allow you to adjust the challenge of the workout. The best thing is that a magnetic resistance system that requires no maintenance and is smooth and silent. It provides resistance that is more than enough for seniors and will give you a perfect workout that you will enjoy!
I hope you found my suggestion for the best exercise bike for seniors useful and will try it yourself. If you have any questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to ask! You can leave them on the comments section below and I will get back to you soon.
All forms of exercise are important for seniors and cardio is no different. There really is no better way to do cardiovascular exercise in the comfort of your own home than using an exercise bike.
Stationary exercise bikes are safe, easy to use, and require very little previous conditioning to use. On the other hand, you can do a grueling high intensity workout on them. If that is what you are looking for. Because of this versatility and ease of use they are the perfect option for seniors.
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See you next time!