Updated: Jan 18
Taking on a workout program as a senior citizen is an admirable plan; however, it’s important to take the time to make sure the exercise program fits the user's lifestyle and athletic ability. While it can be tempting to jump into a vigorous exercise program, especially if the person used to be an athlete, starting with too much too soon can lead to serious injury. For most seniors undertaking an exercise program for the first time (whether in their lives or in a long time), it’s better to start out with a program that’s easy on the body while still convenient. With these guidelines in place, Fitscope recommends senior exercisers begin their workout routine with cycling on a recumbent bike. Read on to learn what exactly a recumbent bike is, whether it’s the right bike for you and the benefits a recumbent bike provides to users.
Which Bike is Right?
There are multiple types of bikes available, and users will want to select the right option for themselves. The options users have include: outdoor, stationary, air and recumbent.
Outdoor Bikes: The traditional bike style, available in road or mountain models to fit cyclists needs. These bikes can only be used outside. While they deliver a powerful workout experience, many find them cumbersome and the constant stopping and going on roads burdensome.
Stationary Bikes: While recumbent and air bikes are technically both types of stationary bikes, for the sake of clarity, stationary bikes in this article refers to the traditional exercise bike one may see in spinning classes. These bikes feature pedals in the same positions as a regular bike but are used indoors. They are commonly one of the most popular items at the gym being they deliver a powerful workout while putting less stress on the joints than what one would experience on an outdoor bike.
Air Bikes: These machines have been around for years, but recently experienced a surge in popularity due to their use in HIIT workouts. Unlike a stationary or recumbent bike, air bikes allow users to adjust their resistance based on how hard they’re pedaling on the bike. If one attempts to pedal quickly, the bike will increase the resistance. Because of this, many seniors find this style of bike is harder on their joints than others on this list.
Recumbent Bikes: Allowing users to pedal from a reclined position, these bikes allow users to get a powerful workout while putting the least amount of stress on their joints. Many find they are able to workout for longer and with more intensity due to less pressure on the thighs and less intense muscle burning after the workout ends.
So, What Exactly is a Recumbent Bike?
A recumbent bike allows you to get all the benefits of cycling without putting undue stress on the joints by allowing the exerciser to workout from a reclining position. Instead of the pedals being located directly underneath the seat as in a regular bicycle, air bike or stationary bike, they’re located towards the front of the bike, allowing the exerciser to move their legs in front of them. The full back allows for users to remain sitting the entire time, keeping their back in a straight line throughout the workout, with a comfortable (usually cushioned) seat. Unlike a regular cycle, users are able to workout with next to no stress on the joints, making it the perfect exercise for seniors. While there are some bikes made in this style for road use, most recumbent bikes will be an indoors-only exercise tool.
There are an assortment of health benefits associated with a recumbent bike, including the intense workout they deliver in conjunction with less stress on the joints. Some claim these bikes cannot deliver an intense workout; however, this information couldn’t be more incorrect. With a properly structured workout routine, anyone of any age can receive a powerful workout that can’t be beat.
Cardio offers an assortment of health benefits for exercisers, including a strengthened heart and lungs. When people complete cardio workouts, their heart is forced to pump more blood throughout the body, raising their heart rate. This increase in circulation strengthens the heart as well as delivering more oxygen to the lungs. Overtime, the body begins to lower the resting heart rate while facilitating more oxygen being absorbed and utilized by the lungs and body. This means that those who regularly practice cardio can lower their chances of heart disease (in addition to other health conditions) as well as lower their chances of feeling out of breath when completing everyday activities.
Cardio isn’t just for the heart and lungs either; it’s also a prime way to lose weight. Cardio forces the body to burn fat by taking energy from fat stores to allow the exerciser to complete their workout. As users become more and more fit, they’re better able to burn through their fat stores and will begin losing weight. The best part? Scientists have discovered that cardio can raise the metabolism as well, meaning users will lose more fat even when not working out!
Recumbent bikes are an excellent cardio workout because they allow users to work at their own pace while still getting a great workout. Other benefits of cardio that a recumbent bike can help one obtain include: better sleep and mental health, improved immune system and more energy.
Strength training is an integral part of a workout program, but it can be difficult to fit in multiple types of workouts. Luckily, a recumbent bike can help because it offers an excellent lower body strength workout for those looking to increase their muscle strength.
Because recumbent bikes are dependent on the legs to pedal forward, they allow users to receive a powerful lower body strength workout. While there are a plethora of benefits to strength training, some of the main benefits include making you stronger by increasing your lean muscle mass, burning calories more efficiently (and raising the metabolism), decreasing body fat by raising the resting metabolism rate, and letting users lose inches by reducing the size of the body (this is where that old adage of muscle weighing more than fat comes in).
However, a recumbent bike will not provide an adequate upper body workout. Instead, users should look to include a lower impact strength training program to workout the upper body. One of the best ways to workout without putting undue stress on the body is by using resistance bands. These powerful little bands allow users to receive a powerful strength training workout with very lightweight equipment, with the bands also delivering a powerful core and leg workout. Want to get started with resistance bands? Fitscope proudly offers resistance band workouts, no matter what one’s fitness level.
As people get older, their joints and muscles become more brittle and can start to deteriorate. By working out, seniors can lower their chances of developing debilitating conditions; however, when they try to workout, they find their joints simply can’t handle the stress, creating an uncomfortable workout experience that dissuades them from wanting to continue the routine. This cycle eventually leads to sedentary lifestyles, causing people to develop health conditions that are sometimes avoidable. Recumbent bikes take pressure off joints to allow people to workout for longer periods of time to get the maximum amount of health benefits working out provides. This can stop an assortment of health conditions in their tracks while ensuring others never appear in the first place. As seniors get more fit, they may decide to switch up their machinery choices to something else; however, a recumbent bike is an excellent option for a lifelong machine that’s low impact and extremely safe for anyone of any age.
As people get older, they can sometimes start to lose their ability to keep their balance as well as they could when they were younger. This loss of mobility can be devastating, but regular workouts can help seniors keep their balance for much longer than they originally thought. Because of the recumbent bike’s large, padded seat users are able to more easily stabilize their core muscles while also getting the workout they need. As they work out more, they should start to see an improvement in their balance (as well as new, more toned physique).
Whether you decide to make a recumbent bike your primary method of cardio, or want to make it an every once in a while machine, it’s perfect for seniors (and really, people of all ages) to get a powerful strength and cardio workout that’s low impact, safe and provides numerous health benefits.
Want to hop on your recumbent bike and start working out as soon as possible? Fitscope offers online studio classes for dumbbells, bodyweight based strength training, HIIT workouts, ellipticals, rowing machines, air bikes and treadmills to allow people to vary their workouts while obtaining maximum benefits. Click here to learn more and receive a free one-week trial.