090922 Low-impact Cardiovascular exercise

Low-impact cardiovascular exercise

With winter approaching here in the northwest of the USA, it is only appropriate to mention several of the ways to help improve or maintain your physical fitness, especially your cardiovascular abilities.

Cycling. Is it all that it’s cracked up to be for improving your cardiovascular health?

Yes, without a doubt they are essentially all you need to improve your cardiovascular health. But you have to use them for the benefits to occur.

I am not going to be discussing buying and riding a mountain bike, a road bike, a tricycle bike, or even an electric bike, instead, I am going to be discussing the basic four in-home exercise bikes that you can ride. These three are not necessarily in order of importance.

However, having tried every one of these three cycling machines, I’m going to talk about the one I like the best. The reason I’m going to talk about the one I like the best is that I’m the one writing the article and I’m the one that has tried all three of them. Does that sound conceited, probably so but here goes anyway.

The stationary upright bike.

The old Tunturi stationary bike. A classic all of its own.

In my opinion, the best ones to look for are the simple little upright bikes that take up very little space and stand on their own support base. Each of these has two pedals associated with a bicycle, an adjustable knob that controls the tensioner to increase or decrease the level of difficulty, a meter that shows just how much tension you are using, a timer, and the handlebars.

As an added luxury I have an attachment on my handlebars that supports a book, my favorite reading material, a magazine, or another device such as my Kindle. Any one of these makes the time literally fly by while on it.

My favorite bike is an old Tunturi like the one in the picture. I have two in my gym, two in the house, and one at the school where I instruct my strength training students. These old things just keep going and going. I have had four of these five bikes for twenty to thirty years now and they ride just like they did when I bought them USED out of the newspaper want ads.

They are simple bikes without all of the nonsense commonly seen on the new versions of today’s stationary bikes. I am not interested in how much I sweat, how long each breath is, the hills I climb shown on the ubiquitous video screen, the temperature of my latte, the mileage left on my vehicle tires, or the leaves of grass in our country home in the woods. I just ride a bare-bones upright Tunturi stationary bike.

If you can find one of these, snap it up because it won’t be there long.

The recumbent bike

This style of cardiovascular machine, for some people, is the way to go for those looking to alleviate some of their lower back pain. For me, I found it aggravating to my lower back almost as soon as I got on it my back started to ache.

Having said all of that, these do let you pedal to your heart’s content in a semi-reclined position riding in this manner. You will find the seats are a lot more comfortable than the upright due to the width and the fact you ride in the somewhat tilted back position.

Not only are they more comfortable for some they also have a direct impact on the joints of the knee per this report from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15133932/

“…The anterior/posterior forces were altered in such a way that the magnitude of the forces tending to displace the tibia anterior relative to the femur were significantly reduced in the RCP, suggesting that less load may be placed on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while recumbent cycling. No changes in the tension/compression forces were observed at the knee, suggesting no differences in knee stability resulting from compressive forces between the tibia and femur. These findings indicate that the RCP may be beneficial when attempting to minimize ACL loads while utilizing cycling as an exercise and rehabilitative modality”.[1]


Once again, I don’t recommend spending your kid’s inheritance on a multi-hundred-dollar recumbent bike with all the features of a zillion-dollar car that thinks and drives for you unless you at least try one out for a month or so to see if you will keep using it. These do not make very good clothes hangers like the upright ones do when not being used.

Under the desk pedal version

Amazon has these priced from around $32.00 all the way up to $199.00.

The last one on the list of bikes is the under the desk or in front of your chair pedaler.[2]

Under the desk, in front of the TV chair cycling style machines.  (which in my opinion are junk but to each his/her own). Did you notice the attempt at being politically correct? I had one of these that did ABSOLUTELY nothing for my heart rate.

Yet these are beneficial for those with limited range of motion and those with balance problems. It is not going to be an issue because you are sitting in a chair.


“…These findings suggest that implementing bike desks in office settings could not only contribute to reducing health risks associated with excessive sitting, but could also contribute to an improved cognitive performance, therefore work performance.

Use after a stroke-Conclusion

Arm cycling training improves walking, physical performance, and neurophysiological integrity after stroke. Although improvements in walking may not be as robust as those from other training modalities, they do highlight the integral role that training the arms can have on rehabilitation of human locomotion. The positive changes in clinical assessments, strength, and reflex control suggest that the arms do in fact give the legs a helping hand in rehabilitation, even years after neurological injury.


The arm cycler

Although more calories are burned by the large muscles in your legs during regular cycling, the arm bike offers an effective alternative for blasting calories and boosting your heart rate. Some machines provide cycling for both the arms and the legs, for a total body workout.

There you have the downsides and benefits of the three bikes normally used to increase one’s heart health.

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=recumbant%20bike%20site%3Anih.gov&rlz=1C1GCEA_enUS947US947&oq=nih+&aqs=chrome.1.69i59l2j0i67j0i131i433i512j0i67i131i433j69i60l3.3717j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&ved=2ahUKEwjVgsTs9Yz5AhW9IzQIHU04AkQQ2wF6BAgNEAE&ei=3tDaYtWbBr3H0PEPzfCIoAQ

[2] a person who rides a bicycle, a cyclist

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5091773/

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