Biking is an enjoyable activity that can help you explore the outdoors or provide a cardiovascular workout. Whether biking inside or outdoors you need to choose the right bike for your needs. While there are many options to choose from, among the first decisions you'll make is whether to buy an upright or a recumbent bike. They both have their benefits. Here are some points to consider before making your purchase.
An upright bike is one in which the pedals are underneath the seat, such as in the picture at the top of this article. A recumbent bike is one in which the pedals are at just about seat height, so your legs are stretched out in front of you, as in the picture here. Both types of bikes come as stationary, which are used for indoor exercise, as well as street bikes to be used outside.
The main reason to choose a recumbent bike over an upright bike is for safety and/or comfort. In cases where balance is an issue or if the rider is dealing with back, hip and knee pain, a recumbent bike may be a better option. Riding an upright bicycle requires the rider to be able to mount and stay on the bike, which can be difficult for those with illnesses or injuries that affect balance. In addition, upright bike seats do not have back supports and can be uncomfortable. In contrast, recumbent bikes are lower to the ground and have larger seats, many of which have back supports. You may also choose a recumbent bike if you have difficulty with bearing weight on your wrists. With an upright bike you must use your arms to support you. With a recumbent bike there is no pressure on the wrists or hands. Using a recumbent bike can often provide a more enjoyable experience.
With indoor bikes, both recumbent and upright styles come with many of the same features. They can be very simple and allow you to adjust the seat height and tension. They can also be complex, including consoles that provide you with feedback about your ride and workout programs you can select. The more complicated the bike, the higher the cost, so you need to weigh what features you need.
A main feature of any outdoor bike is the tires. Both uprights and recumbents can come with tires that are very narrow, which are good for general riding on smooth pavement. With both styles you also have the option of getting fatter tires, which are a better option if you are off-roading or riding on rougher terrain.
The next important feature with any bike is the seat. They vary in firmness and size. With upright bikes, the seat needs to feel comfortable. Some people prefer a wider seat as they plan to sit for most of their ride. Others prefer a more narrow seat that will not get in the way when they stand or because it reduces the pressure on the groins and inner thighs. With recumbent bikes you need to find a seat that helps you keep your back straight and feels supportive.
One of the downsides of a recumbent bike is that you must sit for the entire ride. This means that if your knees or hips become stiff you cannot shift positions. With an upright bike you have the option of standing during part of your ride. This not only takes pressure off some of the bones, but can also be helpful in building bone mass, which is a concern for those with osteoporosis. With recumbent bikes, because you are sitting, you are not bearing any weight on your hips or legs. If you choose a recumbent bike, make sure you participate in some type of weight-bearing exercise. In addition, with regards to outdoor bikes, recumbents can take more practice to get used to. It takes time to become comfortable with the different ways of steering and braking. It is also more difficult to ride uphill because you cannot stand to pedal harder; however, you can push against the seat back. Riding a recumbent bike outside makes you less visible to traffic and limits your vision. You need to purchase mirrors to ensure you can see all around you. The best option is to try out several bikes to find the best fit.
Both types of bikes can provide you with a good cardiovascular workout. They are both an effective option for those that find weight-bearing exercise too painful because of joint injury or disease. Riding a bike for 20 to 30 minutes at least five days a week vigorously enough to raise your heart rate will help you lose weight, manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and be part of an overall healthy lifestyle program. Bicycling is also beneficial for those who have had a hip or knee replacement or other joint surgery. The repetitive motion can help gently loosen tight joints and eventually restore range of motion after an operation.
- Photo Credit http://www.exercisebikes.com
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