Are Recumbent Bikes Good for Seniors? Great Cardio Options!

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Yes, a recumbent exercise bike allows seniors to get a healthy workout without having to worry about the stress that regular workout regimes put on the body. This unique exercise machine provides a comfortable environment for low impact exercise.

Engaging in a healthy and active lifestyle becomes ever increasingly important as we reach seniority. This is because our bodies become less prone to various activities as the years go by. Being able to remain active without experiencing discomfort or challenge is a hurdle many seek to overcome. And the recumbent exercise bike could not have come sooner to remedy this problem.


Cardio with Comfort

We will be looking into detail about this spectacular exercise machine for seniors, that is the recumbent exercise bike, in this article.

Understanding how a recumbent exercise bike works is the first step to comprehend how this machine can help seniors.

➥ For elderly citizens, exercise pedals are also very good options.

Basics of a Recumbent Bike

Let us first look at some basic traits that help set the recumbent exercise bike apart from the other exercise equipment.

A Unique Structure

The first thing you would notice on a recumbent bike is its physical structure.

This exercise bike sports a wide cushioned seat and is accompanied by a comfortable backrest. This seat more closely resembles a comfortable office chair, which is generally a lot different from the narrow, bicycle seats that other exercise bikes have.

These seats are usually highly adjustable, being able to slide forwards and back and also change the height of the seats. (4-way adjustment)

Another distinct feature is the position of the pedals. The recumbent has its pedals positioned near the front of the machine rather than just under the seat.

The position of the seat and pedals combined gives the users of these exercise bikes a unique leaned-back posture while exercising. An almost reclined position.

Finally, he recumbent usually also has two pairs of handles, on the sides of the seat and the front of the machine. Allowing users to either utilize their upper body during exercise or just sit back and let their legs do all the work.


The recumbent provides a great balance

Great Cardio With Low Effort

Like all exercise bikes, a recumbent is primarily a cardio machine. The laid back design may prove to be deceptive as you can very easily perform high-intensity workouts on the recumbent bike.

Unlike an upright bike, you do not need to put extra effort to balance or stabilize yourself on the recumbent.

The unique structure of the recumbent allows you to get great cardio without putting pressure on your bones and joints making it one of the most comfortable cardio machines.

Targeted Muscle Groups

The recumbent exercise bike focuses on the muscles of the lower body.

  • Gluteus muscles (or the glutes). Helps strengthen the lower back area for better posture and balance.
  • Quadriceps. The frontal thigh muscles.
  • Hamstrings. The back thigh muscles. Helps flex the knee. Works in tandem with the quadriceps to better knee joint health.
  • Calves. The lower back leg muscles below the knees.
  • Tibialis anterior or the shin muscles. The forward lower leg muscles. Works in tandem with the calves to assist the ankles and toes.

The upper body is not targeted by the recumbent. You can try to move your arms or use weights on your upper body to involve, then during your time on the recumbent.

The recumbent also offers no core muscle workout. You may have to add other forms of exercise if that is your target.

target muscles

Target Muscles

How does the recumbent help seniors?

As we grow older, our balance and posture gradually get worse. Not to mention the continuous pressure our joints feel due to our body weight, especially those of the lower body.

Many seniors suffer from weakened joints, lower back problems, or arthritis. The recumbent not only allows you to get a good workout but is also suited for seniors with a bit more fragile physical health.

The structure of the recumbent is much more accessible to seniors. The ergonomic semi-reclined seats are very welcoming. You can very easily dock yourself on the machine and adjust to your most comfortable position. The wider seats and backrest provide easy body balance and comfort. The handles on the side allow the users added stability and more reassurance to help them exercise more confidently.

From what we have already learned, the recumbent exercise bike provides a low impact and stress-free exercise. By that we mean the contact points between your body and the exercise machine (your feet, hands, butt, and back) never break during the entire exercise duration. This puts incredibly low stress on your body and joints, allowing for low effort cardio.

A study shows that seniors who exercise regularly have a nearly 23% reduced chance of falling due to weakening balance.

➥ If you’re still in a dilemma, then, have a look at how recumbent bike why recumbent bikes are beneficial for seniors.

Other Core Features to Look Out For

  • Size: The recumbent has some of the largest dimensions of all the exercise bikes. Therefore, if you are looking to bring one home, make sure you have the space to do so. The more comfortable or versatile the recumbent bike is, the more space it is likely to take.
  • Resistance levels: Resistance of the exercise machine obviously plays an important part if the equipment is going to be used by a senior. It should have multiple resistance levels, at least around 8. The easiest resistance being smooth enough to support seniors with lower physical prowess.
  • Feedback screens: Or displays that clearly show exercise analytics. For senior use, it has to be bright and clear and show features line heart rate and distance traveled.
  • Heart rate monitor: One of the core components that is required in any cardio equipment. They are usually placed on the handles, preferably on the side handles as they would be mostly used by seniors. It is very important to keep an eye out for your heart rate during an exercise session. You want to keep it steady and not cross certain thresholds, especially for seniors.
  • Transport: An often the looked feature of any exercise equipment is how portable it is. Make sure the machine has transport wheels to allow it to be moved when needed. Nowadays there are foldable recumbent exercise bikes available in the market, but they may not be as comfortable as the regular ones.

Clear Console

Tips on How to Use a Recumbent Exercise Bike for Seniors

  • When you are seated, make sure your back is relaxed and fully rested on the backrest.
  • Adjust the seat to the correct height and far enough until your knees are only bent slightly. This is the optimum position to get a comfortable exercise.
  • Always start slow. Warm-up is possibly the most important factor in any exercise.
  • Slowly build up to a speed over a few minutes to that which is comfortable to you. The intensity of the exercise is now in your hands.
  • Always keep an eye on your heart rate shown on the display. Make sure it is steady and where you want to be.
  • After you are done with your session, DO NOT suddenly stop. Slowly ramp down the speed of your pedaling to a halt. This may take a minute to 30 seconds.

For more exercise ideas for seniors you can confer to the following infographic:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Which is better, an upright exercise bike or a recumbent exercise bike?

Ans.: Depends on how you are planning on using them. For:

  • Better cardio: upright bike.
  • Full-body exercise: upright bike.
  • Lowest impact exercise: recumbent bike.
  • Exercising while recovering from injuries: recumbent bike.

➥ To know more, have a look at whether a recumbent or upright bike would be better suited for you.

Q2. Will the recumbent help me lose belly fat?

Ans.: No, not directly. The recumbent exercise bike does not target the muscles on your core (mid-section). But it does allow for a high-intensity cardio workout which may contribute to losing belly fat. It is more efficient to add extra core workouts to your exercise routine in this case.

➥ For having more insight into shedding some pounds, check out how you can lose belly fat effectively.

Q3. What exercises should seniors avoid?

Ans.: High impact exercises, any exercise that involves their feet to leave the ground (running or jumping) or involves added weights (lifting heavy weights). For more information see: Harvard Health


Senior citizens should be encouraged to lead a healthier lifestyle, not only physically but mentally as well. And a recumbent exercise bike may as well step up to provide just that.
These pieces of equipment offer great comfort without diminishing the effects of exercise, proving themselves to be an excellent choice for the older population.
Perhaps, with the help of what we have discussed today you might consider getting yourself or someone you know this brilliant piece of exercise equipment.

My name is Dion Lewis. I’ve been cycling since my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions. In my college life, I took a part-time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally. Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or bike gear.

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