It is never too late to start getting active. Even seniors can benefit from a low impact exercise like indoor cycling.
If you want to start indoor cycling, you can either get an indoor bike trainer or a stationary bike.
What is the best indoor bike trainer for seniors? For those who have been cycling outdoors for a while or those who are not experiencing any aches and pains so far, I recommend you to get a basic magnetic trainer for indoor cycling.
However, if you are already experiencing minor back and joint pains, I recommend you to get a recumbent stationary bike instead (and check with your doctor for their exercise advice).
What is the difference between an indoor bike trainer and a recumbent bike?
An indoor bike trainer is a piece of equipment that allows your bike to be mounted and be used for indoor cycling.
It has a frame where you attach your bike. The rear wheel is positioned against a roller so that when you pedal, your bike remains stationary. The rollers are also connected to a flywheel and a resistance unit to give a road-like feel when cycling.
In contrast, a recumbent bike is a piece of stand-alone exercise equipment–there is no need to attach your bike.
It is basically a stationary bike but with a larger seat and a backrest. The pedals are also positioned in front of the seat, unlike a typical stationary bike.
This design makes it more comfortable for the user since they can recline and their bottom and back are fully supported.
The downside is it will take up more space than a bike trainer.
You can get a recumbent bike starting at around $130. Prices could go up to as high $2000 for the high-end models. On the other hand, a bike trainer can cost anywhere from $60 to over $2000 depending on the model and brand.
What are the best indoor bike trainers for seniors?
It is best to get an indoor trainer if you already own a bike, you have limited space in your home, and you are not having back and joint pains yet.
I recommend a magnetic trainer because you can adjust the resistance to your level.
Sportneer Magnetic Bike Trainer Stand is a solid trainer on a budget.
This trainer has a wide base and five adjustable anti-slip rubber feet so you can be sure that it is stable.
It has adjustable six resistance settings. The maximum setting can be handled by a novice or an elderly cyclist. But you can always dial down the setting if it is too much for you.
One disadvantage is that it can get pretty loud during a really intense workout. But there are things you can do to dampen the vibration like using a special tire and putting a mat under the trainer.
If you want to keep track of your exercise, you might want to get a smart trainer instead.
A smart trainer has built-in speed and motion sensors that can transmit the data to your phone, tablet, or computer wirelessly via a Bluetooth or ANT+ connection. You do need to install a training or bike app on your device and make sure the wireless connection is turned on.
My recommendation is Tacx Satori. It one of the cheapest smart trainers you can get but has solid enough build and features.
What are the best recumbent bikes for seniors?
If you can spend a little more than $500 for a recumbent bike, I say go for a Schwinn 270 recumbent bike.
It has a contoured seat which makes it really comfortable. You can even adjust the fore-aft position of the seat. It also comes with a heart rate monitor, and 25 resistance levels.
This recumbent bike also has a built-in mini-fan to help you cool you down. I would still recommend you get an extra fan though.
You can monitor your heart rate, calories, and miles through the LCD display on the console.
It has a media tray where you can put your tablet if you want to watch or listen to music while working out.
It has Bluetooth connectivity so you can sync your exercise stats with the Schwinn Trainer App or other third-party training apps.
If you’d rather have a simpler and more affordable recumbent bike, then I recommend Exerpeutic 900XL for you.
It has pulse sensors and a large display screen so you can monitor the distance you have covered, calories burned, time spent, and heart rate.
If you are willing to shell out a little more than $50, you can get the Exerpeutic 900XL with Bluetooth connectivity so you can sync your stats with your favorite app.
Why is indoor cycling best for seniors?
Cycling is a low impact exercise which means that your hips, knees, and ankles do not get as much stress compared to other forms of exercise.
This activity is good for everyone, but more so for older people who may be suffering from joint pains or is likely to get injured while exercising.
Plus, some research suggests that cycling regularly can slow down the progression of aging.
The study showed that amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 years old who were the subject of the said research did not lose their muscle mass and strength. Likewise, they have a robust immune system.
However, some people may have trouble balancing as they age. Cycling outdoors puts them into the risk of falling. With indoor cycling, they can still get the benefits of the workout without the risk.
How often and how long should an indoor cycling session be?
According to the World Health Organization, older people (65 years old and above) need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week to 300 minutes per week.
If indoor cycling is going to be your main exercise, then you can do a minimum of 30-minute indoor cycling sessions for five days in a week.
WHO also advises that apart from aerobic exercise, elderly people must also do muscle-strengthening activities involving major muscle groups at least twice a week.
Activities that can help strengthen the muscles include heavy gardening, weight-lifting, and squats.
Indoor cycling safety
As with any exercise, you must take precautions. Here are things to keep in mind when indoor cycling. Most of these tips apply to all indoor cyclists in general.
- Keep yourself hydrated before, during, and after the session. Your water bottle must be accessible while working out.
- Do warm-up exercises before starting your indoor cycling session.
- Wear comfortable clothing, preferably a moisture-wicking top and padded cycling shorts.
- Be sure to have a fan to keep you cool during the workout.
- Never do weights while indoor cycling. You can do this before or after your indoor cycling session or some other day.
- Make sure your feet are properly positioned on the pedal. If you are using cycling shoes with cleats, ensure that you attach them on your shoe correctly.
- Maintain proper posture while cycling. Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Don’t grip too tight on the handlebars and hold your head up. Your butt must also rest on the widest part of the saddle. If you are using a recumbent bike instead, adjust the saddle and handlebars to a comfortable position.
- When you are just starting out in indoor cycling, it is better to take things slowly at first. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workout until you reach the recommended 150 minutes per week and moderate intensity.
- Listen to your body. If you experience shortness of breath or pain, then it is a signal for you to stop.
- If you have an existing medical condition, inform your doctor of your plan to begin an exercise program. They are in the best position to give you proper advice when it comes to the physical activities that you are allowed to do.
Indoor cycling is one of the safest exercises for seniors.
For elderly people who have no back and joint issues, they can use a basic trainer for their indoor cycling.
However, for seniors with minor back and joint issues, I recommend a recumbent bike instead because it has a comfortable seat and backrest. Plus, the pedals are positioned in front of the body which could lessen the strain on the joints.
Like with all exercise, I encourage you to make safety a priority. This applies not only to elderly people but to everyone as well.
The number one safety tip is to keep yourself cool and hydrated by wearing proper clothing, using a fan, and drinking enough water throughout your workout session.
Also, if you have an existing medical condition, it is always best to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
What is an upright bike? It is a stationary bike but its handlebars are situated higher than a recumbent bike the seat and pedals are positioned like a traditional bike. Between the two, the recumbent bike is best for seniors.
What other aerobic exercises can seniors do? Walking, swimming and tai chi are low impact aerobic exercises that are best for the elderly. Aside from aerobic exercises and strength training, the elderly can also benefit from stretching exercises to maintain their flexibility.