Why an exercise bike may not be your best choice
It is the dead of winter here in the Chicagoland area and unfortunately I've spent too much time working and too little time on my bike trainer. It made me realize something. We all have choices when it comes to having the time to be able to workout and the option of going to the gym or staying at home to get our workout in. Ok, let me back up a bit. Not everyone one of us has the expendable cash for a gym membership or home gym. But for the sake of this conversation, lets talk about the choice of either using an exercise bike or bike trainer.
Maybe your story can relate a little bit to mine. I'm finding that my time has been limited lately due to a job change. On some days I've been in the office for 13.5 hours. Now between the drive and working those hours I would go crazy if this continues but luckily the hours seem to be backing off a bit. However because of the long hours, it means that I've been very tired in the morning and in the evening all I want to do is get home, eat, relax for a bit and go to bed. Problem being is that all I've done is sat while driving to work, sat while working, sat driving home, and sat all day long behind a computer without any exercise. Ring a bell?
But even in all that sitting I realize that we do have a choice.
You could run off to the gym in the evening, workout at home or get some exercise while at work. Don't tune me out here. We aren't running off to the gym at work (my workplace doesn't have one) but instead, we can use an under the desk mini exercise bike. Here is a picture of the Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Cycle.
I mean think about it. Just like how we spend 8 hours or so (ok... sometimes only 5 or 6) inactive while in bed, we do something very similar at work. Not exactly a recipe for burning a bunch of calories. When you are on a plane for any length of time, you are told to move your legs and to not sit still, otherwise you run the risk of getting clots. Sure, we are not at 35,000 feet as we sit at our desk at work but for many of us, the only movement we get is to walk to the bathroom, lunch room, or to perhaps go to a file cabinet or pick up some papers off the copier/fax. So how many calories are we burning at work?
If you are not going to leave the house in the evening and the mini exercise bike is just not for you, I recommend setting aside at least 20-30 minutes to ride a bike trainer. You simply plop your road or mountain bike on the trainer (making sure to get the appropriate one for your bike) and pedal away. Heck, you can still watch TV while getting your exercise. A bike trainer can be purchased for under $100 (of course you also need a bike) at the beginner level or if you are looking for a more top of the line model which offers a smoother ride with more resistance, that can be had for $300 to $400 or so. For most folks, the bike trainer shown below is very affordable and will get the job done. Plus, it is the most reviewed bike trainer on Amazon.
Bike trainers are portable as they are fairly light weight. So, simply remove your bike and take the trainer from your basement to the living room or bedroom.
Now compare that to an exercise bike. You'll either need to head to the gym to ride or you can buy one for the home. My gym is about a 30 minute ride roundtrip. In that time I could get a decent workout in on my bike trainer. If I wanted that same exercise bike that they have in the gym (mine uses Lifetime Fitness) to use at home, we are talking about a $2000 exercise bike. Doable for some but a little expensive for a single piece of home exercise equipment for most.
However I give you one thing with that exercise bike. It has features. It has mph, distance, calories burned, settings for different types of rides (manual, hills, fitness, random), more resistance than you can handle, etc... and all that makes for being able to exercise while reducing boredom. Of course you can throw on your mp3 player and add a computer with heart rate monitor to your bike trainer and get a similar ride. To me it is all about having options.
- Pedal at work by using an under the desk mini exercise bike
- Stay at home and ride an indoor bike trainer
- Head to the gym and ride an exercise bike
I decided to heed my own advice tonight and pull the bike trainer out of the crawl space, inflate the tires on my road bike and ride for a leisurely 15 minutes. Tomorrow (if my butt isn't too sore), I'll go for 20 minutes. The way I look at it, I didn't have to go out in the freezing cold, warm up my truck, drive 15 minutes each way to the gym, get dressed, work up a sweat (ok... I didn't do too much of that in my 15 minute ride), put my warm clothes back on so that I can go outside, and hop in the cold truck for the 15 minute drive back home. That in and of itself is why I enjoy riding my bike trainer and I think that you might agree that an exercise bike may not be your best choice when it comes to getting in shape in these cold winter months.