Most recumbent exercise bikes come with a console that measures calories burned as you exercise.
The accuracy of this is something that does concern people especially if you want to use it to help you to achieve your weight loss goals.
The lower end of the price range for the recumbent bikes have basic consoles that measure speed, distance, time and calories burned.
You don’t enter any information into the console that could at least help in calculating the calories burned – such as age, gender, weight and height. (see Exerpeutic 900XL for a popular and well liked bike with a basic console).
When you ask the manufacturer how its calculated they tend not to answer or just give you an answer that is vague – such as it uses time and speed and a conversion table to calculate it without giving you the numbers.
They also seem to ignore the amount of resistance you are pushing against in calculating the work done and calories burned – cycling up a hill is a lot harder than cruising along the flat even when you are going the same speed.
At best it is an average estimate. It shouldn’t be relied on to accurately say how many calories you burned during a workout session.
There are calculators online that can help in checking how reliable they are. At least they are a consistent measure from workout to workout.
These console measures are best used as a guide only. They can be useful form motivation as you exercise and also for comparing and tracking progress over time.
Unfortunately you can’t use them to safely calculate how much you can eat for the day – that is probably going to need to monitored and tested as you go using a fitness account like MyFitnessPal.com.
What About More Expensive Bikes
The more expensive recumbent bikes do have better consoles. They give you a lot more choice in how you use the bike and give the ability to enter some personal information for more reliable tracking and measurement. (The Schwinn 270 is a good example of this).
These bikes have you set up a separate profile for each user of the bike. You enter age, gender, weight and height.
They can also take into account the resistance you are pushing against to use to calculate the calories burned.
These can give a better estimate of your calories burned because of the extra information. It still can’t be totally relied on for weight loss calculations. But they can get you closer and not be as wildly out as some of the cheaper models available.
The measurement of calories burned between bikes doesn’t seem to consistent and there can be variations between them. It would be great if there was some consistency as to the formulas they use to calculate
Good Way To Burn Calories
Despite the shortfall of the recumbent exercise bikes consoles in measuring calories they are still an excellent way to help with achieving fitness goals including weight loss.
With weight loss it is more about good food choices than exercise, so the experts say in this area, but it does help to contribute it by burning more calories than sitting on the couch and improving your overall fitness.
I’ve found when I exercise I can lose eight quicker than when I stay sat down all day in a chair.
Recumbent exercise bikes provide you with a good comfortable way to exercise which can mean you might actually exercise for longer. Especially if you set it up so you can watch the TV, listen to music, read or watch your favorite movies you may not realize how long you exercise. You might even enjoy it!
They are easy to get on to with the seats being at a height that is similar to furniture – there’s no having to hop on to a seat or lift a leg over a high frame to get on to the bike.
As well as providing a comfortable workout with the large seats and back rest with your legs out in front of you. They can also help if you have lower back problems as the backrest can provide the support you need so you can exercise without pain.
The other advantage that these bikes have over many other forms of exercise is that they are very low impact. They generally have a smooth pedaling motion and with your feet out in front of you the impact is very low. You can exercise with it being very easy on the joints (in fact many people recovering from injury or surgery use them as advised by their doctor).
It would be great if the consoles were more reliable and consistent between bikes for calorie burning. But this isn’t a problem that is just specific to recumbent exercise bikes. It is shared with all other pieces of exercise equipment.
So they’re a great form of exercise especially for those that want low impact cardio and leg strengthening or mobility and use the calories burned as a guide and a way to keep you motivated and to track your progress over time.