With age usually comes an increased difficulty to move around. Consequently, reduced physical exercise increases the risk of life-threatening conditions like diabetes, heart attack, stroke and more. Luckily, you can do something to reduce the risk.
Regular cardiovascular exercise on an exercise bike would already be a great start. A workout on an exercise bicycle almost provides the same health benefits as cycling on the road.
In this article, I'll review the best exercise bikes for seniors, as well as things to look for when making a decision. So let's take a look!
Quick Overview: Our Top 5 Exercise Bikes For Seniors
Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.
Recumbent vs. Upright: Which one is best for Seniors?
Exercise bikes come in two main variations – upright and recumbent. The main difference between the two is the position of the rider. And while they have a unique set of pros and cons, there is no denying that recumbent bikes are usually better suited for seniors.
Upright exercise bicycles have always been around and like traditional bikes; they keep the rider in an upright position. They can be very useful for exercising body muscles. Unfortunately, the increased risk of injury makes them less suitable for older individuals.
The position of the rider atop of the bike means that the center of gravity is high. This makes the base less stable, hence a higher risk of falling over. The design of an upright bike requires you to lean your body forward to reach the handlebars. As a result, your back and neck are easily strained. There is also increased stress on the wrists and arms.
On the other hand, recumbent bikes don't have a lot of the issues presented by upright bikes. They are more user-friendly and are a great investment for those who like remaining comfortable during their workouts. They have a chair-like seat that provides support for your back. Users don't have to worry about body strain as recumbent bikes have a reclined position.
Unlike an upright bicycle that requires you to hunch forward and grab onto the handles, a recumbent bike allows for hands-free exercising. You can, therefore, watch a movie or read a movie as you workout.
While a recumbent bicycle might not be as efficient as an upright bike when it comes to cardio, you can rest assured that you will probably be burning the same amount of calories as someone using an upright bicycle. The increased comfort of a recumbent bike means that seniors can work out for longer periods of time without worrying about their safety or straining. So, for most people it doesn't really matter, they will benefit from riding their stationary bike anyway.
Best Exercise Bikes For Elderly People - Buying Guide
As an older adult, comfort is probably one of the most important factors in your buying decision. As I already said, a recumbent bicycle is more comfortable than an upright bicycle. So that’s why in the remainder of this article I will only talk about and review recumbent bikes.
Let's take a look at some of the most important things you might want to consider before buying.
Seat & back rest
The seat and the back rest are two important features which contribute to the overall comfort of the machine. I recommend choosing a recumbent bike with a relatively large and cushioned seat. This not only improves the comfortability of your workout, but it also gives you more stability.
Just like with the seat, I would go for a bike with a relatively large back rest. You might want to look for a model with a vented seat back. A vented seat is especially useful if you sweat a lot.
I would pay extra attention to the design of the machine. In my opinion, it has to be (very) easy to get on and off the seat.
The design must allow you to step through the middle of the machine. This makes it easier to take a seat and get off when you’re done. Therefore there has to be enough room between the seat and the front of the machine.
Additionally, you’ll probably also want to double check if the machine has side handles. If it does, then you might want to make sure they’re easy to reach. You can use the handles during your workout for extra stability, as well as getting on and off the machine.
If you want to move the bicycle after you’re done with your workout, then you’ll probably want to look for a machine with transportation wheels. Just keep in mind, though, that moving the bike from one place to another might be heavy. This obviously also depends on the weight of the machine.
Take into account that it will certainly cost you at least some strength to move the machine. So if you don’t feel strong enough, then you might want to leave the machine at the same place.
Heart rate monitor (wireless Vs. pulse)
Another feature which you might want is a pulse or wireless heart rate monitor. To use the pulse monitor, you’ll usually have to hold certain sensors which will read your heart rate. The training computer will then display your heart rate on the LCD display.
Wireless heart rate monitors measure your heart rate by wearing a certain device around your body, like a chest strap. Chest straps tend to be more accurate, but you’ll have to check if your model supports the use of it.
There are also other factors you might want to consider. These features don’t necessarily apply to seniors but could be important nonetheless. Just take a look at the following features and decide for yourself;
Lastly, the assembly is also important to think about in advance. Some bikes are easier to assemble than others. If you’re going to assemble it yourself, then you may want to go for a bike with a relatively easy assembly process. Or you could ask someone else for help. Of course, this doesn’t apply if you feel comfortable doing it yourself.
How to Use a Recumbent Bike if you're a senior?
The only way to ensure that you get the most from your recumbent machine is to use it properly. In this section, we reveal a few great ideas on how to use your recumbent bike correctly to reap maximum benefit.
Always read the manual before you start using your exercise machine!
Adjust the seat
Before getting on your bike, it is important to make sure that it is steadily set up. Sit on the bicycle and place your feet on the pedal and spin on the cranks. You want to focus on the extension of the knees and ensure that they are slightly bent as you put your legs on the back side of the crank.
If this isn't the case, push the seat either forward or backward until you achieve the perfect posture.
You will need to gradually increase the pedaling speed as you ride. You also have the freedom to adjust the resistance. Varying resistance levels exist to help you get used to the machine and also challenge the muscles increasingly.
It is important to note that increased resistance makes it harder to control and challenges the muscles to make them stronger. The ability to take on a higher resistance level is a sign that you are progressing.
A proper form is important to attaining the most results on and minimizing the risk of injuries. Put your hands in front of you without letting them lean forward too much. Keep your back in a straight posture while ensuring that your leg pushes hard when pedaling and grasp the side handles.
Avoid leaning forward repeatedly as this will cause muscle imbalances.
The video above shows you how to adjust a recumbent bike to avoid injuries.
Riding a exercise bike makes a wide range of lower body parts and muscles work harder. Making careful preparation before getting on the bike plays a crucial role when it comes to ensuring that you don't hurt any of those body parts or muscles.
Leg swings, walking lunges, knee highs and side bends are good ways to prepare your body for a workout.
Best Recumbent Bikes For Seniors (Our top picks)
The Exerpeutic 900XL is a sturdy recumbent bike popular among seniors that requires basic setup.
What sets it apart from other models is the user-friendly and durable design, low center of gravity as well as the 300 lb weight limit. It also has wide oversized, padded seats that accommodate a variety of users.
The 900XL uses a V-belt drive, precision balanced flywheel, and a smooth torque cranking system to ensure smooth operation.
There are eight levels of resistance for varying workout intensities. Transport wheels allow for easy mobility and the large pedal design with straps prevents your foot from slipping.
While you shouldn't expect to be able to set up user profiles or choose programs with the 900XL, the LCD screen is quite clear and displays your workout information. This includes time, speed, distance covered and number of calories burned.
- User-friendly and durable
- Accommodates a variety of users
- Step through design to get on and off the seat easily
- No user programs
Furthermore, you can track your heart rate via the handlebars, and the bike is telemetry enabled to allow for chest strap capability. Also featured are built-in speakers with MP3 and iPod player input chord. There is a media shelf for enjoyable workout sessions, and the bike allows for Bluetooth as well as USB media charging.
The cooling fan and water bottle holder ensure that you are sufficiently cooled and hydrated during your workout. A DualTrack two blue backlit LCD window system makes it easy to choose programs, set user profiles, adjust settings and track your workout data.
- Bluetooth connection with certain fitness apps
- Up to 25 levels of resistance for tailored workouts
- A console with 29 preset workout programs to get you started
- Some people might not like the design.
The Schwinn 230 comes with quite a few features that will help you get an effective low-impact cardio workout. It is a bit of a 'scaled-down version' of the Schwinn 270 and has a large console with 22 preset workout programs.
The bike offers 20 levels of resistance, allowing you to tailor your workouts to your fitness level. With its quiet and smooth operation provided by a high-speed perimeter weighted flywheel as well as a sturdy frame, you can depend on this bike to serve you for years to come.
Additionally, it has two LCD screens that allow you to track your workout stats including distance covered, speed, number of calories burned and pulse rate.
You can also set your own profile preferences. The handlebars are padded, and the seat is adjustable for added comfort. Lastly, the step-through design makes it easy to get on and off the bike.
- Adjustable backrest with air vents and lumbar support for maximum comfort
- It's offers a stable workout platform
- Assembling this machine is a relatively straightforward process
- This version doesn't have bluetooth. So it doesn't automatically sync your workout data.
Stamina Elite Total Body
The Stamina Elite Total Body is one of the few recumbent bikes on the market that allows you to exercise your legs and upper body. This is achieved by combining traditional foot pedals and hand pedals in one machine. Its construction is particularly good for those who want a quality, low-impact upper and lower-body workout. The bike offers eight levels of resistance to help you push yourself.
It has a variety of comfort features including an adjustable seat(back) and plenty of cushioning as well as rotating handlebars. The construction has a maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds.
Like other bikes on this list, it operates quietly and is built to last. All of the tracked workout data can be accessed by hitting the "scan" function on the LCD display. It also reads your heart rate to guide your workout intensity.
- Designed to work your lower and upper body at the same time
- Quite comfortable to use
- Some people might not want a bike with hand pedals
- Eight resistance levels probably aren't enough for those seeking challenging workouts
The 616 is a scaled-up version of the Nautilus R614 and is designed to provide an effective low-impact workout. It has oversized crossbar tubing and a sturdy frame that are sure to keep the bike stable at all intensity levels.
The high durability steel frame construction provides enough stability for a heavier person. Plus, the construction has 20% more steel than the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike, which might make it a better choice for a heavier person.
Additionally, the perimeter weighted flywheel keeps the bike operating quietly at a higher resistance level. The bike allows for 25 levels of resistance for a customized workout and comes with 29 workout programs to get you started. It has two blue backlit LCD displays that help you track your workout stats.
It also allows for USB and Bluetooth connectivity to Nautilus Connect as well as MyFitnessPal, making it easy to track your workout data. Furthermore, the 3-speed cooling fan helps you cool while a water bottle holder ensures that you stay hydrated during workouts. Lastly, the maximum weight capacity is 300 lbs.
- Sturdy frame backed by 10-year warranty
- Has 29 programs to diversify your workouts
- Bluetooth connectivity so that you track progress over time via Nautilus Connect or MyFitnesspal
- The assembly process might be a bit difficult
Stationary bikes for seniors should be able to provide a low-impact workout without straining their bodies. So, you might be wondering which of these machines provides just that.
I recommend the Exerpeutic 900XL, because it provides good comfort, premium features and it's suited for a wide range of users. Getting on and off the bike is also quite easy. That's why I recommend this model.
I hope this guide has been of help to you. Do you already have an exercise bike? Tell us more about your experience in the comment section.