Stationary Bike Exercise and Arthritis

Is stationary bike exercise right for arthritis? Since I have arthritis, I know the importance of exercise. My usual routine is exercising on the treadmill, or walking outside when the weather is nice for twenty or thirty minutes. However, when I began to have heel pain, which the doctor labeled “plantar fasciitis”, I needed to find a different exercise to keep my joints flexible, as well as, to reduce the daily pain. And thus, my search lead me to the possibility of using stationary biking as an alternative until my heel pain was more under control.


Benefits of a Stationary Bike

Though I do not see any scenic views while riding a stationary bike, I did find the following “creature comfort” advantages.

1) I can listen to the radio, read or watch TV while riding, thus, eliminating the boredom.

2) Whether it is raining or snowing, I can still ride my stationary bike.

Though the creature comforts were nice, I found the health benefits wonderful. After riding for a little while, and I have worked my way up to riding the stationary bike for 20 minutes a day, I began to see my weight drop. Moreover, my joints seemed to have a little more flexibility, without the pain. To me this is a win-win situation. I was able to get a good aerobic exercise workout without any major arthritis pain.

In fact, when I spoke with my doctor about my stationary bike cycling, he was rather pleased. That surprised me, until he started listing some of the benefits.He stated that it can give you both long term and short term benefits.


Long Term Benefits

The long term benefits of stationary bike riding include reducing your risk of death by cardiovascular disease by as much as 20%. And, it is an exercise that you can maintain for many years, even in advanced age without risking your joints or pelvic area. And if you have arthritis, it can help reduce joint pain and stiffness while increasing flexibility.


Short Term Benefits

Along with a proper diet, stationary cycling can help you to lose weight whether the intensity of your workout is light or moderate. For example, if you exercise for an hour and you weigh 130 pounds, you can burn off approximately 325 calories. However, if you are out of shape I would not advise starting out trying to cycle for an hour. It's best to proceed slowly to match your current body condition.

On a personal note, since I have started following a sensible diet, and biking regularly on my stationary bike, I have found that I have lost inches and weight. In my opinion, the inches are more beneficial. Why? You're losing fat and maintaining muscle.


Starting Your Stationary Bike Exercise Regimen

If you want to start a stationary bike exercise regimen, begin slowly. My doctor did advise me not to overdue it. Why? If you have too much pain, you're not going to continue to exercise. And thus, you have defeated the initial purpose of exercising, and that is getting healthy.

Instead, begin cycling in increments of 5 minutes. If you can ride without pain for five minutes two to three times a day, they gradually increase the time to 7 minutes, then to 10, 15, up to 20 minutes three times a day.

Please note, before you begin any exercise regimen you should speak with your doctor to see if the exercise program you are contemplating will compliment your current physical health.


Buying a Stationary Exercise Bike

Choosing a stationary exercise bike can be a little overwhelming. First and foremost, the stationary bike you choose should not only fit your body, but also your health and health conditions.What to consider:

  • If you have no back problems and you are looking for muscle tone with weight loss, than the upright stationary bike is a good choice.
  • If you are looking for weight loss, but need more cushion on your bottom and less stress on your back, look at the recumbent bike. Granted, you will not lose weight as quickly on the recumbent bike as you would an upright bike, but comfort and safety is also important.


What to Consider When Choosing a Bike

After you have determined the type of bike you want to buy, these other issues should be considered for maximum comfort:

  • Bike should have an adjustable seat
  • LCD Display
  • Smooth ride
  • Strong enough to hold your weight or the weight of all individuals that may be riding the bike

Before buying an exercise bike you should give one a try. This is truly the only way you will know that the exercise bike is comfortable, and will compliment your health.


Different Stationary Exercise Bikes

The exercise bike you choose will largely be dependent upon your own needs and wants. The following bikes are what are currently out on the market. Each offers something a little different for the rider.

Spin Exercise Bike

A spin bike is a stationary bike with a flywheel in front. The weighted flywheel mimics the resistance of a regular bike being ridden outdoors. The spin bike is sturdier than a regular stationary bike, allowing the rider to stand up and pedal, if they want.

The spin bike targets the glutes (bottom), quads, hamstrings, calves and even the abs. Working out on the bike can help tone and strengthen these areas, especially if you turn the resistance up so you have to stand to pedal.

Upright Exercise Bike

With the upright stationary bike, the body weight rests entirely on a small portion of the sitting bones, feet and hands, and it resembles that of a normal street bike. Many experts conclude that the upright bike can give you a more intense workout because the stance allows you to put more effort into your ride.

The only complaint most riders have about the upright bike, is the uncomfortable seat. Some solved the problem by getting a seat cushion to make the ride a little more comfortable.

Recumbent Bike

The recumbent stationary bike is a bike that places the rider in a laid-back reclining position. It is designed for ergonomic reasons. Thus, if you have back, knee or balance problems or you want more padding than an upright bike seat can provide, check out the recumbent. Most experts feel that the recumbent bike helps to reduce stress on joints, while still offering a cardiovascular workout. Depending upon the type of recumbent bike you get, it can offer you different types of cardiovascular workouts suitable to your fitness level.

Since your legs and feet are out in front of the hips, with this type of bike, it will help to take pressure off of painful knees, as well as, making it easier getting on or off the bike.

Dual-Action Bike

A dual action bike is an upright bike with movable handlebars, giving you a total fitness workout.

To conclude, most stationary bikes are equipped with basic computers that can track your speed, time, distance, heart rate and total calories burned. As with anything, the more bells and whistles the unit has, the more you will have to pay.

Again, before beginning a stationary bike exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure the program is right for your current physical health.

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