On your bike
Pedal through any type of weather from the comfort of your home.
Words: Felicity Bonello
Physical activity is an important factor in maintaining good overall health and wellbeing, yet according to a 2007-08 study, 68 percent of men and 76 percent of women partake in a low level of exercise or are sedentary1. What if there was a convenient way to work out that was easy on your joints and burned a lot of kilojoules? Enter the stationary bike.
While they’ve long been a familiar sight in gyms or rehabilitation centres, a stationary bike of your own may be just what the doctor ordered for weight loss, toning your leg muscles and stabilising the muscles in your torso.
“As far as physical results achieved and muscle mechanics used, a road bike and its stationary equivalent are fairly similar,” says Paul Grey, Founder and Director of Northern Beaches Personal Trainer. What sets these options apart (aside from the convenience of being able to ride one from the comfort of your lounge room) is that “stationary bikes are designed to feed back accurate technical data as a way for the user to stay aligned with their exercise goals”, adds Grey.
Results, of course, are the end goal, but how do you achieve them comfortably, efficiently and safely on a stationary bike?
According to Grey, when it comes to preventing injury and enjoying a good workout, the single most important step in stationary cycling is setting up your bike correctly. “The most common mistakes people make is to have their seat too high, which can damage your knees, or the seat too low, which can cause an over flexion in the hip joint, or the handle bars too low, resulting in rounding of the back,” he says. “To exercise safely and prevent injury, seek professional advice from a doctor, physio, personal trainer or exercise specialist before hopping on for the first time.”
So, your bike is now set up and you’re ready to get fit, but one big question remains – how long will it be until you see results? “A minimum of three sessions per week for 20 minutes each should have you on track to achieving some goals, provided your diet is in check,” says Grey. “If you want to see your results skyrocket, escalate the time of your workout or, more importantly, the intensity of it through increased heart rate, resistance and frequency.”
Tips from the trainer
Prefer training in a group environment? Many gyms offer spin classes, so if you’re considering this option, Paul Grey recommends these steps:
- Set up your bike correctly. Seek help from your instructor if you’re unsure.
- Eat at least two hours prior to your class. High-intensity classes will burn through your energy stores.
- Rehydrate throughout the class. It’s important for muscle function, as well as weight loss.
- Get your technique right. It’s hard to get rid of bad habits; don’t create them in the first place.
- Choose a class that’s motivating for you. Have fun!
Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Measures of Australia's Progress’ (2010) abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1370.0~2010~Chapter~Exercise%20(22.214.171.124.4)