Fitness Basics: Exercise Bike (cont.)
You can also look in the classified ads or ask local retailers about used and reconditioned bikes. Talk to friends as well, says Calabrese.
Can you convert your outdoor bike? If you already have an outdoor bike, says Calabrese, consider buying a cycle trainer or set of rollers. Trainers essentially let you convert an outdoor bike into a stationary one by elevating and mounting the back wheel and removing the front wheel. Rollers are for more experienced riders because you have to balance your back wheel on them to ride. Both are easy to store when not being used.
Should you go recumbent? Recumbent bikes, which became popular about a decade ago, tend to be favored by seniors or those needing a rehabilitation tool. "They're comfortable and non-impact," says Calabrese.
But don't mistake that for easier, she warns. "When you're upright, you've got weight and gravity on your side. When you're lying back (recumbent), you have to do almost more work to turn the crank."
Whatever bike you choose; make sure you feel comfortable with it. Try it out in the store, with the shoes you'll be wearing. And ride for more than a few seconds to make sure it stays comfortable. You may even ask the retailer for a trial period to test the bike in your own environment.
The nice thing about having a stationary bike at home, says Magee, is the convenience and freedom. She loves to hop on her bike to watch the 30-minute sitcom Will & Grace. She tries to get through the entire show, commercials and all, before getting off.
"I've literally done (my workout) with my nightie on sometimes," says Magee.
Calabrese is not opposed to the idea of watching television or reading a magazine for distraction, though she concedes your workout may not be as intense. "The research on reading or watching television while cycling shows that the intensity tends to be lower," she says, "but people tend to work out longer."
Watching I Love Lucy reruns isn't the only way to motivate yourself, says Calabrese. She suggests:
Eskola recommends that people who are new to exercise or to stationary bikes start with very modest goals. "Just getting on the bike and going for 10 minutes a day and gradually increasing the time -- that's all a beginner's goal should be," she says.
And don't despair if your motivation wanes.
"Even for those who are active, it's hard to exercise at home sometimes," says Eskola. "I had a bike at home and I didn't use it. I'd go out for a run but I didn't get on that bike."
If you know you're likely to do the same, instead of buying a bike, join a health club and use its bikes. Do whatever it takes to get and keep you moving.
Ready, Set, Go!
Whether you use a stationary bike at home or the gym, Calabrese offers these tips for getting the most from your workout:
Originally published April 4, 2005.
SOURCES: Kim Eskola, MS, ACE-certified fitness instructor and trainer; assistant fitness director, Little Rock Athletic Club, Little Rock, Ark. Kelli Calabrese, exercise physiologist, ACE-certified personal trainer; president, Calabrese Consulting LLC. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, consultant, WebMD Weight Loss Clinic.
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