Proper levels of exercise are essential for personal health, and exercise bikes for seniors are great ways to ensure one’s body is getting enough movement daily as we age. Muscles and joints very much operate on a “use-it-or-lose-it” principle. If you’re not regularly active, you’re only going to grow weaker, develop worse joint mobility, and experience more pain.
These are just some of the reasons that daily exercise is important – particularly for seniors. And one of the best ways for a senior to exercise is with a stationary bicycle. When it comes to shopping for such though, it can quickly grow overwhelming with the sheer number of options that are on the market.
We’ve examined the marketplace and narrowed it down to a few different stationary bikes, but this begs the question…
Is an Exercise Bike Good for Seniors?
There are several great reasons why seniors and exercise bikes make for a great match. Let’s examine some of the reasons why.
The first benefit of cycling for an older user would be that it’s a low-impact form of exercise. If one is struggling with chronic back pain, hip issues, or other joint problems that eliminate most forms of weightbearing activity, then a bike helps serve as a great source of a workout with minimalized stress on the joints.
Requires Little to No Balancing
Treadmills, stair steppers, and ellipticals require one have a suitable level of balance to use them. One doesn’t have to worry about such with a stationary bicycle. Provided one can sit without falling over, one can use a stationary bicycle.
This means that stroke victims, those with Parkinson’s, or those with other balance disorders can typically use a stationary bicycle safely.
Ease of Getting On
Many treadmills require a high step to step on the belt. Oftentimes, an even larger step must be made to get on an elliptical or stair climber. With a seated bicycle, one doesn’t have to worry about such whatsoever. Compared to other modes of exercise, these are exponentially easier to get on.
Dollar-for-dollar, one will typically get a much better quality of machine with a stationary bicycle than they would for an elliptical, treadmill, or so on. To get a passable treadmill often starts at around at least $400, and that’ll be for a model without any form of electronic incline control.
Exercise-wise, stationary bikes are cheap. For those on a fixed income, this is something to keep in mind.
What to Look for in an Exercise Bike as We Age
When it comes to shopping for an exercise bike for an older client, there are a couple of key factors you’re going to want to shop for.
This is more than just ensuring that the seat feels good on your booty. You also need to ensure that you can comfortably pedal the machine without feeling as if your knees are going through too deep of a bend.
While buying exercise equipment online inhibits pre-purchase testing, we’ve stuck with designs below that contain features which are typically viewed as comfortable by users over long periods of time. Wider seat pads, good biomechanics, and regular handles (not Lance Armstrong style handles which necessitate constant leaning forward) are all ‘comfort’ factors to look for during your shopping experience.
Ease of Getting On
Many bikes on the market are not suitable for older riders due to how difficult it is to get on the seat. The best bikes for older users have a lower bar on the bike frame connecting the tail end of the bike with the front end.
The lower this bar is, the easier it is to step over it. This makes it much easier and safer for the older user – particularly one with balance issues – to engage in regular bike riding.
Nobody wants a bike that takes up half of their living room. However, if the living room is where you plan on stowing your bike, you want something that is easily moved from one location to another. A heavy bike only increases one’s risk of a fall or other injury if it must be muscled into place every time that the user wants to utilize it.
4 Best Exercise Bikes for Seniors
Knowing that exercise equipment can be expensive, and that not everyone has the discretionary funds available to buy the top of the line, we’re focusing our recommendations to four bikes that all cost under $1000.
If you want to bike outside, but have balance problems or general safety concerns with traditional bicycles, consider three-wheeled bikes for seniors. These are an effective (and fun) to way to both exercise and get fresh air. Do it with someone else and you’re then getting the added benefit that activities for seniors can bring.
Best Bike for Very Heavy Users, Very Frail, or With High Degree of Pain – Cubii JR1
- COMPACT ELLIPTICAL- Leading compact and ergonomic mini elliptical that lets you workout or rehab while you sit at home or the office.
- REHAB AND FITNESS EXERCISE PEDDLER - The smooth gliding motion can be switched between 8 resistance levels to increase desk exercise as you gain strength.
- WHISPER QUIET MINI EXERCISE BIKE - Enjoy your favorite show, read your current book, and stay productive at work all while you Cubii without the worry of distraction!
While technically listed as a “mini-elliptical” for all intents and purposes, this is in essence a miniature bike as well. While this isn’t going to give you a heavy workout – and thus, isn’t a great option for those who are already in good shape – this is the best option on this list for those who are either frail, have mobility issues, or live with a lot of constant pain.
The range of motion required to operate the Cubii JR1 is about as small as you can possibly get for a bike. While this is what makes this not the best option for somebody with little-to-no pain and who is in good shape, it’s this small range of motion that makes this a great option for somebody who struggles with a significant amount of joint pain.
This is also the smallest bike on this list as well. This means you can easily stow this piece of exercise equipment just about anywhere. One reason this small size is fantastic is because it helps to make exercise convenient.
One doesn’t have to worry about having to go down into the basement to work out. The means of exercising can easily be right at your feet, meaning you’re that much more likely to actually use the equipment.
Best Bike for Cost-Conscious Users and Those with Balance Issues – JEEKEE Recumbent Exercise Bike
- 【Smooth & Quiet Recumbent Bicycle】Featured highest quality 8 neodymium magnets, the resistance is greater and more uniform, longer life than other magnetic bike. Superb process of the external magnetic flywheel and dual-belt system brings smoother, quieter workouts.
- 【Ergonomic Design】Large seat and backrest takes the pressure off your tailbone and spine. Recumbent stationary bike offers a low-impact legs exercise free from joints pain, increase circulation, builds endurance. Perfect for physical therapy, rehab and elderly parent.
- 【8 Levels Magnetic Resistance】JEEKEE sit down exercise bike comes with 8 adjustable levels of magnetic tension, easy to customize your workout difficulty according to fitness level by the knob. Heart rate monitor let you know how hard you workout.
While not a well-known brand, and not a bike that would be suitable for larger riders, this is a great budget-friendly option for those who may have balance problems. Many exercise bikes require the user to step over a high bar to straddle the seat. With the JEEKEE, that’s not an issue.
All that’s required to get on this bike is to raise one’s foot over the bar along the floor, swivel, and then sit down.
Cons of this machine would be the difficulty in adjusting the seat length. If only one person is using this bike, one can easily set the seat at the recommended setting the first time and then never have to worry about doing such again.
If multiple people are going to be using this daily, and they’re all differing heights, that could prove to be an issue. The type of locking mechanism which is used to lock the seat in place will require the user to bend over and must unscrew the lock, pull the pin, move the chair, reinsert the pin, and then screw back on the lock.
For younger users, this would pose no problem. For an older user with weak grip strength, balance issues, back pain, etc. this could quickly prove to be a problem.
Best Low-Intensity Bike – Marcy Upright Fan Bike
- PREMIUM STEEL FRAMEWORK–This multifunctional equipment features a premium steel frame that combines design and performance. Constructed from 14-gauge steel tubing with scratch-resistant and powder coated finished, this bike boasts durability in its uses
- DUAL-ACTION EXERCISE ARMS –Designed to give you an efficient and effective workout, this exercise fan bike features a pair of dual-action exercise designed to simultaneously work your upper body while targeting multiple muscle groups.
- UNIQUE RESISTANCE SYSTEM– This bike comes with an innovative resistance system that utilizes a fan instead of a weighted flywheel that increases resistance as you pedal faster and produces cool air to increase comfort and endurance while you work out.
While generally considered an out-of-style bicycle, there’s no reason why a fan bike should be immediately discounted. These make for a great low-intensity form of cycling, allow one to get their upper body involved in movement as well, will give you a bit of a breeze as you use them, and are relatively easy to get on as well.
Despite our listing these as “low-intensity” however, make no mistake. You can get a seriously challenging workout on air bikes with faster pedaling. A typically higher level of baseline resistance (compared to a electric bike’s Level 1 setting) though makes this a good choice for those who just want to hop on and ride with minimal button pushing.
Within this author’s experience, upright bikes tend to not require as much deep knee bending as recumbent bicycles, meaning personal training clients with chronic knee pain typically preferred upright models such as this.
The seat locks in with the screw-and-pull style knob, which as mentioned above, can be an issue. But thanks to the higher placement on this seat adjustment knob, not as much effort will be required to properly set the seat as you may find on other models out there (such as the prior listed JEEKEE model).
Added benefit of this model is that Marcy is a very well-established gym equipment brand that’s been around forever. You don’t have to worry about buying cheap, Chinese knock-off equipment if you stick with Marcy, because you’ll know you’re investing in a trustworthy brand.
Best High-Quality Recumbent Bike – Nautilus R618 Recumbent Bike
- Bluetooth connectivity, syncs with the Nautilus Trainer 2 App and other apps for fitness tracking
- Dimensions: 67.3" L x 26.4" W x 48.8" H; Product Weight: 107.1 pounds
- Sync with free downloadable RideSocial App and see the world as you virtually ride alongside friends in real time
It’s just about impossible to go wrong with Nautilus equipment. They completely changed the game within gyms back in the 80s with their unique nautilus shell cams for adjustable weight machines, and they’ve been going relatively strong ever since. You’ll still see their equipment in gyms throughout the country.
This recumbent bike would be a great addition to the home workout studio of those who want a solidly built recumbent that will last for years to come. In this author’s opinion, the seat design is superior to a lot of the other bikes one sees out on the market. Recumbent bikes that slide upwards at an angle tend to be more comfortable on the knees (for those with knee pain) and more of a natural motion compared with ones that simply slide straight back.
A potential con with this bike would be its heavy weight. It comes in at a little over 100 pounds, meaning the setup process can be something of a chore. As a result, if you’re looking for a bike you can pull out of the corner to the middle of the room every time you want to do a workout, this is probably not what you’re looking for.
If you’re going to put your bike in a location and leave it there, this would work perfect. For those who like programmable workouts as well, this bike has plenty. There are 29 pre-programmed workouts within the computer of this machine, meaning you can engage in several hill training, heart rate, or steady state cardio workouts specifically tailored just to you.
A stationary bicycle makes for a great addition to a home gym. They have a significantly smaller footprint than a treadmill or elliptical (and are lighter too!), enable one to get a great workout, and make for a fantastic low-impact form of exercise.
All of these factors combined help to make these a great source of exercise for an older user. If you’re in the market for one, we highly recommend any of the above models, and don’t believe you can go wrong with the addition of a suitable model for your own home. What are your thoughts on the subject? Are there other stationary bikes you’ve had great success with? Have you used any of the listed models? Let us know in the comments below!