A cardiac cycle program using a stationary bike is often part of the cardiac rehab program in the early days of your recovery. But, it's also a great activity to continue as part of your ongoing smart heart living.
Did you know that riding a bike can help to reduce symptoms associated with arthritis, hypertension, asthma, and depression. It is also a great calorie user. But most importantly, it's great for your heart!
You don't have to be super-fit to enjoy a cardiac cycle program... start slowly and gradually increase your time, distance, and speed.
If you have a bike already, there's no need to buy a stationary bike to train indoors... simply get an indoor training mount and convert your outdoor bike to an indoor bike - depending on the season.
An added consideration: riding a bike has none of the joint shock from
continuous impact with the ground that occurs with some other aerobic
activities. Because cycling causes less wear and tear on the joints and
muscles and yet still delivers a good cardiovascular workout, it's a
good option for older people or people with joint problems.
If you combine a cardiac cycle program (even occasionally) with walking, yoga, or other activities, you will benefit by working your upper thigh muscles, backside, and calf muscles, burning calories, and conditioning your cardiovascular system. Win - win - win!
If this is something you really enjoy, consider joining a club or working your way up to taking a pedal powered vacation.
More information about bicycle riding can be found on Bicycle Riding for Boomers.
Not Enough Time to Ride?
Let's face it. We all have 24 hours each day. It's up to you to determine how to spend your time. Realistically, maybe you can only fit in one 30 minute ride a week. But that's better than none! Especially if you are combining it with other exercise. An ideal to aim for is three times a week. But again, this depends on what other smart heart exercise you are engaging in, and what YOU enjoy doing.
Bicycling injuries can be divided into two categories. Those caused by sudden events such as crashes, and those caused over time by factors such as an ill fitting bike, incorrect exercising (most often too much too soon), or weaknesses in your bodily makeup such as chronically tight hamstrings or knee problems.
To avoid injury when riding outside, review the tips above. Inside or outside, it's a good idea to warm up and/or stretch before your cardiac cycle - good advice before any exercise. Make sure your bike is properly adjusted for your size, and increase your workouts gradually.
As with any exercise program, check with your doctor before starting a cardiac cycle program. If you are currently in cardiac rehab, discuss what kind of cycling program you should continue with your fitness advisors.
If cardiac cycling is something you really enjoy, why not set some goals for yourself?
I remember being in the Rocky Mountains a few years ago and coming across a group of people in their 60s who were riding their bikes clear across the continent. Talk about inspiration.
Maybe you're up to that challenge - maybe you're not - but you can still set some goals and have some fun achieving them! For example:
Riding the Right Way
Adjusting your bike
Saddle - the most important adjustment you can make on your bike or stationary bike. Your seat is correctly positioned when you can sit squarely on the saddle with your down leg fully extended and the heel of your shoe is touching the pedal comfortably. Your saddle should be level or slightly tilted with the front of the seat higher than the back. (I have a gel seat - I love it, its so comfortable)
Handlebars - this depends on the type of bike you have. On a mountain or hybrid bicycle the top of the handlebars should be at the top of your saddle.
Riding correctly - inexperienced riders tend to pedal in gears that are too high. Start with the lower gears - less muscle strength and endurance is required. Gradually increase to the higher gears.
Wind and terrain will also influence the gears you use. When it's windy, shift your gears as necessary to find a comfortable rhythm. In hilly areas use low gears, in flat areas shift to higher gears.
There are a number of ways you can warm up before your cardiac cycle. Probably the best way is to get on your bike and pedal at a very gentle pace until you feel your body warming. Stretching is advisable, but gently warm up on your bike or walk around and do some light calisthenics beforeyou stretch. Don't stretch cold muscles.
Suggested cardiac cycle workout:
Finish your cardiac cycle with a cool down period of low-intensity pedaling to help your muscles return to a resting level. If you stop cycling suddenly, you may begin to feel lightheaded because blood can pool in the legs. Taking a hot shower can further aggravate this situation. As an alternative to low-intensity pedaling, get off your bike and walk to cool down. If you are wearing a heart monitor you can use your heart rate as an indication.