Go into any fitness center and you will see rows of stationary exercise bikes. It has become one of the primary tools to increase general fitness, and for good reason. It offers a low-impact, safe and effective means to give a great cardiovascular workout and technology has added many bells and whistles to give you greater performance. They first made their appearance in their earliest forms with the invention of the gymnasticson in 1796, and their function was to exercise the joints. Obviously they have come a long way since then.
Some models feature handlebars that connect to the pedals so that the upper body gets work. They can also give you feedback on heart rate, calories burned and other facts. Some even have the option to pedal backwards to exercise muscles not used when pedaling forward. It is a way to exercise that does not place a lot of stress on the joints and does not require sporadic motions that some fitness equipment may require. Plus if you have space in your home, there are many varieties that are for sale that make exercising handy, without taking up excessive amounts of room.
There are two different types of stationary exercise bike: upright bikes and recumbent bikes.
1. Upright bikes. This looks a bit like a normal road bike with a more vertical upright position and handle bars in front. These will offer a greater degree of variety in movement. People with osteoarthritis may find it easier to pedal in the forward-leaving that can be done with the upright bike. More muscle groups will be able to be incorporated, as you can get into a more standing position as well as a racing position and change-up your variety.
2. Recumbent exercise bikes. With these the rider is resting back into a back-rest, with the legs out in front. This position may be more comfortable for some people, especially those who experience lower back pain. The back-rest will also provide additional balance.
Most manufacturers have available both types of bike, with the recumbent style typically more expensive. Before purchase, try out both types. This can be done at any health center where both types are available. If you do not have a membership, most will offer a one-day or multi-day trial for their club, so take advantage of it to do your experimenting.
Not everybody, and most of all fitness trainers, is convinced that stationary bikes do much good for your fitness. Especially with the recumbent bikes, some people appear to be taking a leisurely ride rather than doing any meaningfulful exercising. I would agree that to lean back, reading a book and leisurely peddling away is probably not going to do as much for you as a stroll through the park.
Unless you get on the bike and work, you will get far less out of your workout aerobically than riding a real bike, which requires balance and overcoming obstacles such as hills. Unless you approach your stationary bike as a complete exercise, and not as just putting in your time, you will not receive the benefits. You can do this by varying your resistance, go from high intensity to low and back again. Also, opt for one where you are required to move your upper body in conjunction with your peddling. This will give you the workout you're looking for.