Ideally, this form of exercise should be done at least three days a week for at least 20 minutes each time. If the patient is not used to regular exercise, it may be necessary to start more slowly and work up to this level of exercise. Typically, the patient's pulse should be raised to 60 to 85 percent of his or her maximum heart rate.
As when beginning any exercise routine, a health professional should be consulted beforehand to make sure the program is safe for the patient and to help determine the patient's optimal heart rate during aerobic exercise. To prevent injury, patients should always warm up before their workout and cool down afterwards. In addition to aerobic exercise, it is very important for back pain patients to also incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises in their rehabilitation and fitness program.
A health professional can show the patient which riding positions will be most comfortable and supportive for the back. It is important to maintain good posture by keeping the body centered and the back well positioned on the exercise bike (i.e. avoiding hyperextension). Poor posture on an exercise bicycle can strain the low back and/or the upper back and neck.
If patients experience any unusual pain after beginning an exercise program, they should discontinue use of the exercise bike and consult their physician.
Other Exercise Bike Considerations
Many people find exercise bikes a good option because they can be used either at a fitness center or at home. Most gyms have exercise bikes available for patients, and many now offer group Spinning classes using stationary bikes. However, patients should always consult a health professional before joining a class to make sure that the intensity will not aggravate their back problems.
When used at home, one advantage is that exercise bikes don't take up much space. Some models may even be collapsible to fit under a bed or in a closet. Some people find that that added convenience of being able to exercise at home helps them maintain a consistent program of fitness and aerobic activity.
There are a wide range of prices for stationary bicycles (a few hundred to a few thousand dollars), and this is largely due to variations in quality (such as lifetime warranties, weight capacity, noise level) and number of features (such as pre-programmed workouts and heart rate monitors) of the exercise bike.
Another option for someone who owns an ordinary bicycle, road or mountain bike is to purchase a trainer, a device that allows a regular bike to be used in a stationary position. The bicycle rear wheels fit into the trainer and can be used in lieu of purchasing a stationary bicycle. Trainers are relatively inexpensive and can be found at many bicycle retailers.