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Cycling Your Way To Fitness
By: C.J. Gustafson

Stationary Bikes - Still A Top Choice For Overall Fitness

In all the craze over new fangled fitness equipment, the exercise bike often gets overlooked. Stationary bikes have been around for many years, which can lead some people to think they are outdated or not as effective as newer types of equipment. But for many people, exercise bikes provide a fun, consistent, reasonable means of exercising, improving cardio functions, and losing weight.

Stationary exercise bikes provide all the benefits of riding a bicycle. They provide good cardio workouts, have much less impact on knees, hips and other joints than walking or running, and can be used at any time it’s convenient. Most stationary bikes have manual or computerized controls to allow you to adjust resistance and speed. Many also come with heart monitors and cardio workouts already programmed in. There is a huge selection of price and style, and stationary bikes tend to be the most affordable cardio exercise machine.Plus, with a stationary bike, you don’t have to worry about traffic, dogs, or bad weather. You can exercise in the convenience of your own home and even watch television or read a book while you bike. Try doing that on the bike path at the park!

Types of Stationary Bikes

Standard, upright stationary bikes come in single or dual action models. Dual action bikes have handles or levers to work the upper body and have been shown to provide more effective cardio workouts, burn more calories, and also improve overall body tone more efficiently than single action bikes. Dual action bikes work well for those with hip or leg injuries who need to exercise but also need to go easy on their legs. The dual action allows the arms to work harder to operate the machine, thus requiring less work from the legs.

A recumbent bicycle, sometimes called a “bent,” is a type of stationary bike that is more laid back…literally. It places the body in a semi or fully reclining position, taking pressure off the back area. Some people feel the position is difficult to adapt to at first, but many who choose recumbent bikes say they are very easy and comfortable to ride. They usually come with a larger seat, which often means you will stay on the machine longer or not have discomfort later.

Because of the reclining position, a recumbent bike works the abdominal muscles more and also creates more hamstring action. The lower center of gravity makes for better balance as well. Doctors feel they are better for those with back problems or with cerebral palsy and related diseases. The recumbent bikes also bring your feet more closely in line with your heart, keeping blood pressure low and providing for a safer overall workout.

Popular Models & Prices

Most stationary bikes come with ways to assess your speed and distance. Economy models have a tachometer/odometer combination and a design that utilizes a flywheel to provide resistance. These models are not programmable and provide the least effective workout, but are at under $200 can be an inexpensive way for a beginner or someone on a tight budget to get some exercise. They can be purchased at many department stores.

Standard models usually come with more features such as a programmable consul that calculates heart rate or allows you to pick a heart rate and then adjust the resistance accordingly. These bikes may use flywheels, fan blades, or magnetic resistance, depending on the quality. Magnetic resistance is usually the best method as it operates more smoothly and is quieter. These models can range from $200 up to $1500 and provide the broadest range of selection for the average person. Some popular models include Tunturi F520 (recumbent), Vision Fitness R2000, and several models from Schwinn, the popular bike manufacturer.

More expensive stationary bikes often use magnetic resistance and typically need to be plugged in to an outlet. They come with all the bells and whistles, including extended warranties, more varied programming features, and comfort options such as built in fans. They typically cost over $1500. Lifecycle 5500HR and 5500RHR (recumbent) are popular choices among those who are serious about their workout or have a healthy budget.Other popular manufacturers of exercise bikes include Nordic Track, Reebok, Weslo, Keys, Fitness Quest, and Edge.

Compared To Other Equipment

All types of stationary bikes provide a low impact workout that many feel is an advantage over treadmill exercise. The force on the knees, ankles, feet and other body parts that occurs with walking or running can cause swelling or discomfort in the joints. It can irritate old injuries or sometimes even produce new problems. A stationary bike provides non-weight bearing exercise that reduces impact on these areas.

In the health and fitness industries, and among customers, there is an extensive debate over which machines burn more calories and give a better cardio workout. There is evidence on both sides of the issue, but many people agree that a stationary bike should have dual action to optimize weight loss and heart health. The pumping of the arms has a significant impact of the effectiveness of any workout, and a treadmill is less effective as well if you hold onto the hand supports rather than letting your arms swing or pumping them in rhythm to your motion.

Elliptical trainers are another exercise option that provides a low impact workout, but many feel they do not provide the same cardio benefits. Rowing machines are boring, more difficult to use, and can be hard on the back. Other equipment has disadvantages as well, making stationary bikes a good choice for overall effectiveness and satisfaction. Consumer buying shows that exercise bikes continue to rank as a top choice for exercise and fitness training.

In the ever expanding world of health and fitness equipment, there have been some true advances as well as a bunch of gimmicks. A stationary bike is an old standard that has been a proven exercise tool for years, and that continues to improve and adapt through new technology. The overall effectiveness, ease of use and variety of designs and prices makes a stationary exercise bike an excellent choice for beginners and advanced enthusiasts alike.

About the Author:

C.J. Gustafson is a successful writer for http://www.best-home-gyms.com, your complete shopping guide for home gym equipment, exercise bikes, treadmills, elliptical machines, weight lifting equipment and more.

Copyright 2005 Best-Home-Gyms.com

Permission is granted to publish this article on your site if the author's byline is included and all 3 links are hyperlinked.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/


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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape

 

Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.


Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic
shocks.

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically
speaking.

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over
time.

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:
http://tinyurl.com/6c6kq
 

Dave Snape

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