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Are you looking for an activity that will not only help you burn calories and strengthen muscles but also reduce some of the symptoms of arthritis? Then riding a stationary bike is an excellent exercise for you.
Are you suffering from arthritis and worried about the impact that cycling can have on your swollen joints? You’ll be happy to know that riding a recumbent bike is a fantastic low-impact exercise for people suffering from arthritis. It is comfortable, safe, and easy to use.
Here is everything you need to know about recumbent biking and its benefits to people with arthritis.
Table of Contents
How Recumbent Bikes Help People with Arthritis
Compared to outdoor cycling, you can exercise on an indoor recumbent bike without worrying about the weather, potholes on the road, unexpected climbs, or keeping your balance.
If you regularly work out on it, you’ll improve your cardiovascular health, flexibility, and mobility. You may also progressively add resistance to improve your muscle strength.
According to a study published in PubMed, stationary cycling can provide relief from pain and improve knee function in people suffering from knee osteoarthritis.
Biking is a low-impact exercise and a stationary recumbent bike, in particular, puts less stress on the joints and knees. The repetitive leg motion that you do helps flush fluids and produce lubricant around your arthritic knee joint.
When you ride a recumbent bike, you sit in a reclined position. It means that there’s less weight and pressure on your knees. Since you don’t bend your knees so much as you would with upright bicycles, you’re less likely to aggravate the condition of your knee.
Pros and Cons of Recumbent Bikes
To really see whether a recumbent bike is the best type of indoor exercise bike for you, let’s check some of the advantages that it offers people with arthritis and also some of the drawbacks.
Advantages of Recumbent Bikes
There are many benefits associated with cycling in general, but we’ll talk about recumbent bikes in particular. Here are some of the reasons why you should try this type of indoor cycling.
- Alleviates arthritic pain. Exercise reduces stiffness and lubricates the joints through movement, making the joints feel looser.
- Improves overall fitness. Riding a recumbent bike will improve your aerobic fitness and blood pressure.
- Low impact exercise. Unlike walking or running, cycling on a recumbent bike has low impact on your joints and muscles, which means less muscle fatigue and joint pain.
- Allows more hip mobility. Due to its lower position to the floor, a recumbent bike allows you a broader range of hip mobility than upright cycles do.
- Helps you lose weight. Extra weight can worsen the symptoms of arthritis. With a recumbent bike, you’ll have a knee-friendly way to do cardio workouts, burn calories, and lose weight.
- Strengthens muscles. When the pedal resistance on the bike is moderate, it not only improves knee and hip range of motion but also strengthens your quads, hams, and glutes. Strong leg muscles help in supporting your knees/joints.
- Has a comfortable seat. Recumbent means reclined, and that’s what the chair-style seat in recumbent bikes is. It offers comfort and support to your torso.
- Easy mount and dismount. It’s relatively easier to get on and off a recumbent bike than with an upright bike since it is lower to the ground. You’ll have a low risk of falling, too, which is crucial in people with weak knees.
- Adjustable intensity. If you ride a little slower than usual, you can coast or shift into lower gears to ease leg discomfort.
Disadvantages/ Drawbacks of Recumbent Bikes
There’s not a lot of drawbacks to talk about. Still, it helps to know these things for you to make an informed decision.
- Unnatural sitting position. Let’s be honest, working out while reclining isn’t one of the most normal thing to do, is it? It takes some time getting used to, that’s for sure. The good thing is that you’ll get a wider, more comfortable seat that supports your weight and removes the strain on your arms, back, and shoulders.
- Need to balance. Lying back while cycling is quite a balancing act. Again, it takes some time to get used to. Recumbent bikes have side handles to help you with your balance, but as you master your moves, you can also use less of the handles and get more control from your core. It will not only help you balance but also put those muscles to work.
- Exercise plateau. Using only a recumbent bicycle for many months can lead to an exercise plateau. When this happens, you may need to progress to an upright bike to improve your leg’s range of motion. You can also mix your workouts and not solely depend on a recumbent for your exercises.
In closing, I’d like to leave you a few reminders, but foremost is for you to see your doctor to get some advice about using a recumbent bike. Once you get his/her approval, then you can proceed with the exercise and these reminders:
- Be mindful of your limitations and what your joints can handle. Don’t go too hard or intense on the pedals because this can cause more harm than good.
- Begin with low-intensity exercises, then only increase the duration and intensity of your routines once your fitness improves.
- Don’t forget to stretch and warm up each time you do your workouts. Start with 5-10 minutes range-of-motion exercises and work your way up to cardiovascular activity.
Put your recumbent bike to good use and reduce joint pain and swelling. Exercising gives us a means to control how we live and feel, so let’s use it.
Be healthy in mind and body, and I’m sure happiness will follow!
Written by Kathleen Langdon – TheHealthPot.com Founder
Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES)
Kathleen, a mother of two, struggled with ongoing weight and health issues. She created this website after she turned her life around. She built Thehealthpot.com to help inspire and motivate others with their fitness goals. Read more about Kathleen here.