Fitness That Fits You
Cycling offers efficient, low-impact exercise for millions of Americans. It is a good cardiovascular exercise that strengthens leg muscles as well as the stabilizing muscles of the core. The repetitive knee motion, without constant impact, is especially good for arthritic knees because it encourages the production and flushing of fluids through the joint, lubricating it and washing away waste products. Cycling while seated is relatively non-weight bearing and it does little to promote bone density, so a weight-bearing activity should be added to your total fitness program. Helmets are essential for both experienced and inexperienced riders to reduce the risk of serious head injury in the event of a crash.
Specific modifications will depend on your joints affected, but you may consider the following.
- A recumbent bike puts almost no weight on your upper body and the seat has back support. It can be a good option for people with arthritis.
- Mounting and dismounting your bike may be difficult. You can use a unisex frame rather than a high-bar frame or you can lay your bike on the ground, step over it, then lift the bike up.
- Newer technologies, such as automatic shifters built into the pedal mechanism and electronic brakes and shifters, can make cycling accessible for many people.
- A correctly fitted bike is essential. Have a professional at a bicycle shop help you.
- Recreational biking on paved bike paths and roads exerts less impact on the joints than does off-road biking.
- Slowly increase the time, frequency, distance and speed of your rides.
This is general biking information. Get personalized results, with specific modifications and tips customized to your problem joints and level of fitness.