Monday, 23 November 2009

Stationary Bikes and Spinning Cycles

Sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate when you want to go for a ride on your bicycle. Sometimes, you just don't feel like going anywhere. Often, you can't spare the time to get dressed, cycle a few miles, and get back before you have to leave for an appointment. These situations and many more all provide the opening for one of the fitness enthusiast's favorite pieces of equipment: the stationary bike.

For a cost that, today, is often much less than a good 10-speed or mountain bike, you can get a stationary bike that provides a great workout. Cardio, quadriceps and calves, and more are common benefits of using one. Want to burn calories like mad? Want to work up a healthy sweat and lose that extra body fat? A stationary bike is one of the best ways to accomplish those goals.

The same benefits are available with spinning cycles. In fact, the differences between the two are relatively minor. Spinning cycles usually have a gear mechanism that more closely approximates a real outdoor bike. A spin bike also tends to be a little larger and shaped more like a standard outdoor model. Often they cost a little more.

Personal taste and the desired workout style will dictate whether to purchase an upright or a recumbent model. But whichever variation you prefer, a good one will offer at least the same minimal set of features.

The seat should adjust to fit your height and comfort, and provide the kind of workout you want. Most should sit about hip height while standing. The pedals should also fit your leg length and feel comfortable at a standstill and while in motion. The bike should be easy to get on and off without snagging clothing, bumping your knees and so forth.

For safety, a cover on the gears and/or chain mechanism is helpful. People workout in different types of clothing. You're unlikely to get spandex leotards caught in one but a loose pair of sweatpants is an accident waiting to happen without some kind of protection. Chain guards also help keep oil from splattering or contacting your clothing.

Adjustable inertia/resistance is very desirable. Just like a 10-speed, different gears make it easier or more difficult to pedal. A stationary bike or spinning cycle should offer the equivalent. That way you can vary your workout at the beginning, in the middle and at the end. It also makes it possible for novice fitness enthusiasts to start at the right level, then use the same equipment as they build up strength and stamina.

Sturdiness and quality construction are a must, just as they are for any piece of fitness equipment. You'll be spending anywhere from $50 for a mini-version that just offers pedals to several hundred for a full-sized model that should last for years. You want to get your money's worth.

Extra features can be very handy. A built-in heart rate monitor is always useful. A place to attach a magazine or rest an iPod never hurts either. Fortunately, there are a wide range of models available in all price categories, with a variety of extras.


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