Are Mini Exercise Bikes Effective?

These tiny exercise bikes have been around for sometime now and one of the main questions asked is whether mini exercise bikes are any good. It is an understandable question as, on the face of it, these bikes look…..well….ineffective. If you haven’t come across one of these pieces of exercise equipment before you’ll find that they are essentially just the pedal section of an exercise bike. There is no seat, no handlebars and no discernible wheels. As you would expect from that description, with so many components missing, mini cycle exercise bike dimensions are very small. This leads a whole entourage of people looking for portable exercise equipment to investigate these bikes. Not withstanding how these bikes look they can benefit certain individuals, here is the inside track on the potential health and exercise benefits of these bikes and whether they might be a good choice for you.

Any Good For Weight Loss?

A large group of all the individuals looking for exercise equipment are primarily looking for a weight loss solution. Mini exercise bikes can be used to lose weight as part of a calorie controlled diet. Weight loss will usually involve an individual running a calorie deficit, essentially you can lose weight by eating less calories, burning excess calories via exercise or a combination of both exercise and diet. So the question of how much weight you can lose using a mini cycle will come down to how many calories you can burn using the bike.

How many calories an individual burns during exercise depends on a plethora of factors from age, weight, heart rate, gender etc. In fact getting an accurate calculation at home is impossible but using the following formulas can get you a rough probable calorie burn dependant on heart rate, age weight :

Men: C/min = ((-55.0969 + (0.6309 x HR) + (0.1988 x weight) + (0.2017 x age)) / 4.184

Women: C/min = ((-20.4022 + (0.4472 x HR) + (0.1263 x weight) + (0.074 x age) / 4.184

(weight is in kg)

So, for a male, 39 years of age, 188 pounds, at a heart rate of 90 beats per minute (not fast enough to be sweating or breathing any more heavily than normal) he would burn 6.3 calories per minute or 189 in a 30 minute pedal.

In terms of weight loss, the individual would need to burn about 3500 calories to lose one pound of body weight per week. This gives you an insight into how much diet and easy peddling would be required for weight loss and that a mini cycle exerciser could be used effectively under a desk to burn calories and lose weight through the day. Using a mini exercise cycle under a desk or in front of the TV could be as effective as a regular gentle stroll.

Good For Toning?

Will a mini exercise bike improve your body tone? When you lose excess weight it generally comes off in a uniform manner until you get to the very last tough sections. Using a mini exercise bike will improve your tone through weight loss. It will also exercise muscle groups which should, through extra use, develop better tone and definition. In particular, the users leg muscles should show improvement over time. Calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and hip flexors should all show improved tone and definition through extra use.

The big difference between a standard stationary upright exercise bike and a mini exercise bike is the seating position. On an upright exercise bike the user is perched upright in the saddle so core muscles in the mid torso area used for balance are gently used in the workout. With a mini cycle you are less likely to get this benefit unless you choose a suitable chair to workout on.

It is possible to use a mini exercise bike to tone stomach muscles, but this requires the user to target the muscles by placing the pedals further away from the body than might be usual and adjusting the chair position for some incline.

You will also see these bikes described as table top exercise bikes inferring that you can place the unit on a table top and get an upper body, shoulder and arm workout from the unit. Whilst this is possible, you might be better off just doing a few standard push ups. You certainly shouldn’t consider buying one of these mini exercise bikes if toning and adding definition to your upper body is a main goal.

Cardiovascular And Aerobic Fitness

Depending on your current fitness levels you may get some cardio and aerobic improvements from a mini exercise bike workout. Bear in mind these bikes are not built for people like Lance Armstrong, rather they are best suited for individuals who want to simulate walking exercise. The reason you can’t use them for high intensity workouts is that they just aren’t stable enough. Having said that, if you have done no meaningful fitness work they can gently bring you to an improved level of fitness over time but unlike a machine like a treadmill or exercise bike you couldn’t train to be an Olympic athlete on them.

What these bikes are good for is low intensity work that helps most users burn calories, helps moderate blood sugar levels, helps combat cholesterol, provides gentle toning, keeps joints mobile through gentle use and improves general circulation.

Motorised Versions For The Elderly

A special note should be made with reference to elderly users. As you peruse the stores for the perfect model you will come across electric mini exercise bikes. These models actually turn the pedals on behalf of the user. These are not magnetic mini cycle exercise bikes where the bike is plugged in and the power feeds a magnet that creates resistance. The purpose of the electric mini cycle with turning pedals is to therapeutically encourage gentle leg movement to help joints remain supple in older age. By gently moving the legs, muscles are also stimulated and encouraging better circulation.

So do mini exercise bikes work? Are they effective and are there any benefits? Absolutely, these bikes are great at simulating a level of exercise similar to walking which can improve overall fitness, burn calories, improve tone, maintain healthy joints and improve circulation. They can be used under a desk or in front of the TV so are convenient.

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