5 of the Best Exercise Bikes for Seniors

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The Benefits of an Exercise Bike for Seniors

To no one’s surprise, rain, snow and dropping temperatures cause a drop in people’s activity levels. From falling ice to dangerously slippery sidewalks, the winter months can pose several barriers to outdoor exercise, especially for older adults (age 60 and over). So, on the cusp of the Canadian winter, many of us are looking for safe and effective ways to exercise indoors.

Staying active throughout the colder months is essential for our health—it can reduce the risk of heart disease, control weight, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and improve mental health. While nature walks and treks to the gym may be less enticing in frosty temps, stationary bikes can be a convenient way to stay active indoors—particularly for seniors.

“It’s good for lower body strength and cardiovascular fitness,” says Dee Simpson, a 78-year-old fitness trainer and avid cyclist. Indoor cycling can improve muscle strength, increase gait ability, and even boost brain and memory functioning.

Because cycling is a non-weight-bearing activity, it doesn’t put as much stress on hips, knees and ankles as jogging or running, says Simpson. This also makes cycling a good option for older people who have joint issues, says Dorothy Zammit Martaus, a physiotherapist at Toronto’s University Health Network who treats seniors. Furthermore, cycling can be beneficial to those who need help with certain forms of recovery, such as assisting with rehabilitation after a stroke.

To help get you started, find out what the experts recommend when it comes to using an exercise bike to which bikes are best for seniors.

(Related: 4 Stretches to Improve Range of Motion as You Age)

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How Seniors Can Use an Exercise Bike

According to the World Health Organization, people aged 65 and above should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity. For seniors who are new to cycling, Simpson recommends starting with three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes each time. However, she says, “anything that one does that doesn’t involve sitting on a couch is a positive.”

Many new stationary bikes come with cycling programs available for all levels of fitness and ability. Simpson suggests seniors start at the most basic level. “Master it and then slowly but surely—after riding about three or four times a week for a few weeks—go up to level two, then level three, and so on,” she says. “Do not advance too quickly as you’re likely to injure yourself inadvertently—or tire yourself out too much and quit.” Instead, go slow and steady, and if you haven’t been living an active lifestyle, talk to your doctor before starting any new workout.

For bikes that don’t offer guided workouts, Simpson recommends interval training: “Find a steady speed for a half-hour,” she says. “Every two or three minutes, go as fast as possible for up to 30 seconds, then go back to your steady speed.”

(Related: 5 Stretching Exercises for Seniors—or Anyone Who Feels Achy)

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