Are Exercise Bikes Worth It for Those Wanting to Lose Weight?

Exercise bikes are a common part of many people’s fitness regimes. If cycling is your sport of choice, they are especially handy to have in countries like Canada, where you can only bike six months out of the year.

However, there have been many new devices introduced that help people exercise, while the stationary bike has been around for decades. Are they still worth the money and your time?

If you want to lose weight, then yes, an exercise bike is still a solid investment. Adults require a minimum of 2.5 hours per week of cardio exercise; if you are looking to lose weight, increase that total to an hour a day. You should also supplement that with trips to the gym in order to augment your upper body and keep your physique proportional. It is also wise to modify your diet to include good quality foods and proper portion size. Doing all of these will provide the fastest and most effective results.

As to the question of whether you should have your own bike at home, or just use the ones in the gym, it depends on what is available. If you want a top-quality bike, you can buy one and have it at home for use any time you want. Gyms tend to have good, but not excellent bikes. However, they are usually more than sufficient and if you live close enough to your gym that you attend it regularly, you might not need to make the extra investment of owning your own stationary bike.

Exercise bikes may seem old school, but there’s a good reason why they are still around: they work! Having your own at home is a great enticement to keep fit. However, if losing weight is your main goal, do not rely on the bike entirely to attain that goal.

Are You Exercising Too Much?

Exercise is a wonderful thing for both mind and body. However, like most things in life, you can overdo it and actually create problems. Do you find you are spending more and more time at the gym or exercising at home? Is the amount of exercise going up without a corresponding increase in the benefits? Are you actually experiencing problems because of the degree of exercising you’re doing?

Here are some signs that you may be exercising too much:

Constant Pain

“No pain, no gain” is a familiar refrain when it comes to exercising and most us experience some during and after a good workout. However, if you are in exercise-induced pain for most of the day and it is keeping you awake at night, this is not healthy. This state can also leave you feeling irritable, even during times when anger is not called for.

Blood Pressure Issues

One of the reasons people exercise is to help lower their blood pressure. However, over exercising can actually cause your blood pressure to become too high, leading to health complications even in young and otherwise well people.

You’re Not Seeing Any Results

Many people give up on dieting because they reach a point where the pounds are not coming off like they used to. The same can be true with exercising; you can reach a plateau and not demonstrate the same level of improvement that was previously easy to attain. This can lead to a loss of motivation to exercise. Both are indicators that you need to slow down and even take some time off.

Fatigue and Low Energy

Are you no longer getting the post workout charge you previously enjoyed and are now actually feeling listless and easily fatigued? These are good indicators that you should take a holiday from exercising for a bit.

 

Fall Exercises

The gym is an excellent place to exercise and a wonderful way to meet new friends and fitness partners. However, do not forget to enjoy physical activity in the great outdoors. If you live in a part of the country where winter is too cold to comfortably exercise, you should try to take advantage of the hospitable fall weather while it is still here.

Here are some exercises that you can enjoy while taking in those wonderful autumn colours:

Walking and hiking

There is nothing wrong with walking or running on an indoor track at the gymnasium, but it does not compare to observing the natural beauty of nature this time of year. Get out to your favourite trail and bring a friend.

Running and biking

Whether you want a short jaunt or a long trip, going for a run or bike ride this time of year is an excellent idea. The sun is not as intense and you often get a nice cool breeze to keep you from overheating.

Go for Extended Dog Walks

I do not have to tell you how much our canine friends love to go for a walk. With winter coming soon, those walks and get shorter and shorter. In fact, most last no longer than the time it takes for them to do their business. The weather is lovely right now, and your dog will love being out in it, so take the time to go for a few extended walks. You will both benefit and enjoy it.

Rake those leaves

As lovely as they are, it is a good idea to remove leaves from your lawn. Rather than paying the local children to do it for you, grab a rake and have at it. It provides an excellent, low impact form of exercise than anyone can do.

Exercise and Mental Health

The physical benefits of exercise are indisputable. No matter what your age, you need to get up and moving in order to ensure maintenance of current health and prevention of disease in later years. However, exercise is also a very valuable tool when it comes to helping people battling mental health issues.

As someone who frequents their local gym regularly, you are no doubt already aware of the power of endorphins. Those “feel-good” chemicals that give you that natural high after your workout are one of the things that encourage you to keep going. That is also true for people with issues like anxiety and depression. The endorphins improve their mood, which acts as a supplement to any talk or drug therapy they are receiving.

Exercise also acts as a form of connection. Think about all the friends and mentors you have met over the years at the gym, people that you probably would not have encountered otherwise. Many people with mental health problems tend to isolate themselves due to reasons of shame and fear. That severely limits the possibilities they have for meeting new people and even maintaining old friendships. Even if they do not join a gym, exercise is a way to encourage them to leave their homes and do things. That leads to the mental benefits and also opens up the possibility of spending time with other people and gaining the cathartic effects one gets from such encounters.

Regular physical activity can also have other benefits for people in this category. Exercise is more likely to result in a person having a good night’s sleep. A lot of people with depression and anxiety often suffer from uneven sleep or even outright insomnia.

Individuals suffering from anxiety tend to also have considerable muscle tension, which can lead to headaches and physical pain. Exercise helps to loosen and relax muscles which in turn reduces such symptoms and leads to less anxiety.

The Benefits of Pilates

You’ve probably heard the term Pilates, but have you ever tried it? Pilates has many benefits for the body, no matter what your age or occupation. Here are just a few of them:

Benefits Your Core

Your core is the center of your body; a strong core is very desirable because it means less work and strain on your neck and back, two areas that trouble many people.

Increase Your Flexibility

Even if you have no desire to be a gymnast, it is very good to be as flexible as your body permits. The additional flexibility you get with Pilates means a greater range of movement and less chance of injury and pain.

Decreases Stiffness

Do you have a sedentary job where you spend most of the day sitting in front of a computer? I’ll bet you find yourself feeling incredibly stiff at various points in the day. Human beings were not designed to spend so much of their lives in a stationary position. Attending a Pilates class, even just once a week, can be incredibly helpful in reducing this stiffness and goes a long way in improving your quality of life.

One of the main advantages Pilates offers is that it strengthens and elongates your muscles. This helps your joint mobility and makes your muscles more elastic and flexible. This means less chance of discomfort or debilitating injury.

Increase Your Strength

Your core is not the only body part that benefits from Pilates. Most exercises also make use of your arms and legs, building up muscles in these important areas as well.

A Well-Conditioned Body

Everyone desires a lean, strong, well-conditioned body. That sort of physique means that you are capable of easily enjoying and excelling in many sports, as well as just being able to handle the demands of everyday life with greater ease.

Etiquette at the Gym

By all means, feel the burn at the gym, but don’t intimidate others.

For you to really get the maximum benefits from a gym membership, you need to feel very comfortable wherever you decide to work out. If the gym is intimidating or otherwise off-putting, you will be far less inclined to spend time there, thus defeating the whole purpose of having a membership.

Here is some basic gym etiquette to remember; observe these at all times to ensure that everyone has the best experience they can:

Observe the Rules

Every facility has its own set of posted rules members are expected to follow. Make sure you read and understand them.

Be Polite

Treat others as you would wish to be treated and don’t be intimidating. People who are self-conscious about how they look probably already feel uncomfortable around those who are fit; be nice and offer to help them whenever possible.

Wipe Down the Equipment When Finished

When you finish with a machine, use whatever sanitary solution the gym supplies to wipe off the equipment. Many people may use a piece of equipment over the course of a day and that can mean a whole lot of germs; don’t contribute to the bacteria pool by leaving yours behind.

Make Sure Someone Else is Not Using the Equipment

Someone using a machine may have gotten up to ask a question or get something they need; that doesn’t mean they have finished. If it’s not clear, ask whether anyone is using a machine before you sit down and get started.

Give People Enough Space

The gym can get very crowded during peak times, but do your best not to crowd your fellow member. Make sure everyone has ample space to perform their activity. This will ensure member comfort and help to prevent injuries.

Tips for Choosing a Gym Membership

So, you have decided that it’s finally time to lose those 20 pounds you promised you would start taking off…oh, last New Year’s Day. You now have the will, you now have the motivation, and you now just need the facilities to get going and become fit again. You probably have a multitude of gyms in your city with an equally large number of membership packages available. Where do you go and which do you choose? It’s perplexing enough to make you want to just stay home on the couch.

Here are some tips that can help make things easier:

Choose One Close to Home

The closer the gym is, the more likely you are to use it. If it’s in walking distance from your job, even better. Check the hours; are they open during times when it’s convenient for you to use the facility?

Take the Tour

Ask for a tour of the facility. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the equipment, instructors, programs, change rooms, or anything else that comes to mind. For example: find out when the peak times are. If this is when you plan to attend, ask how busy the facility gets. It won’t do you any good to show up at the gym and find all of the machines taken.

Go Month to Month

You’re eager now, but will you still be in six weeks? Try going month to month for the first while and see how you do, rather than locking yourself into a yearly contract.

Study the Paperwork

Make sure that there are no extra fees beyond what you agree to. Only sign up for things you know you need.

Before You Sign…

Do some additional online research. Does the gym have good reviews? Do you know anyone who goes there regularly? Ask questions.

 

Exercises for Kids

At the risk of sounding even older than I am, I remember the days when kids spent a lot more time outdoors. It was just customary to run and play with friends after school and on the weekend. If we spent too much time watching the 12 TV channels available, our parents would evict us from the house with the order, “Go outside and play!”

Of course, entertainment options have expanded dramatically in the decades since then. Between the thousand channel universe, computers, smartphones, and video games, kids now have more reasons than ever to be inert. That is taking a toll on their health as childhood obesity levels are approaching crisis levels.

If you are concerned that your child is not getting enough physical activity, here are some simple, but effective exercises that you can do together:

Push-Ups

One of the most traditional exercises is also good for kids, though don’t necessarily worry if they cannot keep from bending their knees: the benefits are still there.

Sit-Ups

Another oldie, but goodie, sit-ups help to strengthen core muscles. At this age, it is not necessary for the child to curl all of the way up to their knees.

Planking

This is another basic exercise that helps to increase both arm and core strength. Children may find this tough at first, but as their strength increases, their endurance will also go up.

Aerobic Exercises

I don’t mean aerobics in the 20 Minute Workout sense, but sports you and the kids can easily enjoy at home or in the park. These include basketball, tennis, soccer, running and jogging, and bicycling.

Chair Squats

These are great for increasing leg strength and require no special equipment whatsoever; just grab a chair from the kitchen or living room. Once kids get good at this, you can increase the challenge by having them hold a pair of weights in their hands.

 

Exercise for Seniors

Exercise is a benefit for anyone of any age, but the type and duration can vary, depending upon that person’s period of life, abilities, and goals. Many people don’t realize that seniors should also exercise regularly, but it can be more of a challenge for them. due to the physical limitations brought about by age.

Fortunately, most of those obstacles can be avoided simply by choosing the correct activity. Here are some low-impact exercises well-suited to those in their golden years:

Walking

The most basic exercise around, walking requires no special equipment, no gym time (as long as the sidewalks are clear and the weather is OK), and no advance planning.

Make sure that you have a comfortable pair of running or walking shoes well-suited to your feet, and be sure to do some stretching beforehand. Start with a short duration and gradually work your way up.

Swimming

Hitting the pool can be beneficial for seniors because swimming is very low-impact, but so good for your joints. It also helps to improve flexibility and endurance.

Ride a Bike

Getting on a bicycle is great for both getting you outside and enhancing joint health. If the weather is bad or you are intimidated by traffic, a stationary exercise bike is just as effective.

Lifting Weights

The goal here is not to become ripped, but to increase your strength and benefit your overall health. Start with small weights and gradually up the amount and the time you spend with them.

Yoga

Don’t worry: you don’t have to be super flexible to do yoga. Even only slight amounts of bending will help with strength, endurance, and balance.

Tai Chi

Here is another low-impact pursuit that is excellent for balance, flexibility, and strength. There are over 100 moves to perform in tai chi, but don’t worry if you can’t remember them: just copy what everyone else is doing! They won’t mind.

Meet Canada’s Strongest Woman: Allison Lockhart

Male weightlifters get all manner of press and a number have parlayed that notoriety into fame in other areas. The most famous example is Austria native Arnold Schwarzenegger, who arrived in America in the late ’60s with very little money and very little English. However, he had a very big dream and through years of hard work, Schwarzenegger established himself as both a bodybuilding superstar and a very popular actor.

The female side of the coin is not as well known, though there was an entertaining and informative documentary in 1985 called PUMPING IRON II: THE WOMEN that profiled several female bodybuilders. In the years since, conditioning has become much more prevalent. If you are a film or TV star, chances are you have a personal trainer and, if you’re in a superhero film, you better be sculpted like a god or goddess.

35-year-old Calgary native Allison Lockhart is Canada’s strongest woman according to the results of the annual strongwoman competition. One look at her and you would be unlikely to dispute that claim. Oddly, the question of muscular women and attractiveness still seems problematic for some. It hardly seems fair to make women adhere to a standard if they don’t want to. Attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder, but confidence is almost always sexy. People who are fit and take care of themselves always stand out, and Lockhart certainly does. I suspect that she will be a role model for many young women.

Following three straight victories in the strongwoman competition, Lockhart is defending her crown again this week at the Calgary Stampede. Her totals are highly impressive, including the ability to lift 535 pounds from a squat and she can also bench press 335. If she does come up with a fourth win, could movies and TV be in her future? Difficult to say for sure, though you can follow Lockhart’s progress on Twitter.