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What is an Upright Exercise Bike?

By Alex Terris
Updated Feb 19, 2024
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An upright exercise bike is a type of gym equipment used to provide a cardiovascular workout. Upright bikes are manufactured to be similar in design and function to regular bicycles and keep the person in an upright position during exercise. In contrast, recumbent exercise bikes keep the user in a more horizontal position. Upright exercise bikes are the most common type used in home situations as they provide a medium0intensity, low-impact workout. Aside from a cardiovascular workout an upright exercise bike is also useful for toning leg muscles such as the hamstrings and quadriceps.

Cycling is one of the most effective ways to lose weight or tone muscles while at home. Other exercises such as running burn a greater number of calories but are also much more damaging to the joints and muscles. Using an indoor exercise bike allows a person to burn calories without having to worry about excess train being transmitted through the ankle and knee. It is still possible to suffer from repetitive strain injuries while using an exercise bike, however, so the distance and resistance used should be built up gradually.

One of the main benefits of an upright exercise bike is that the user can work out while reading or watching TV. Exercising on a stationary exercise bike can be tedious compared to riding on a standard bike so it’s often important for the person exercising to have some sort of external stimulus. Some upright bikes also come with built in computer monitors although these are only available on higher priced models.

The main downside to using an upright exercise bike is that they don’t provide the same level of intensity as other exercise machines. For example, a multi-function exercise bike that works the arms as well as the legs will burn more calories in the same period of time. A workout using an upright bike is often more intense than that provided by a recumbent bike.

One of the most important considerations when buying an upright exercise bike is which type of resistance to go for. If money is not as much of a concern during the purchase, then an electromagnetic option is a good option. These bikes are quiet and allow for a wide range of different programs. Magnetic exercise bikes are also common.

It’s important for the buyer to consider whether a portable exercise bike is required. These bikes are useful if a dedicated home gym is not available. Other features to look for include heart rate monitors, exercise programs and multiple user tracking.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Wisedly33 — On Jan 06, 2015

I'm with you, Scrbblchick. The elliptical makes me want to hurl, too. I can do the stair stepper, but I always have a headache when I stop.

I like the upright bikes. I can work my upper body on the handles, or just ride it like a regular bike, if I want. I always feel a little lazy on the recumbent bike, like I'm just sitting there not doing much. I know I'm getting a workout, but I feel better about it when I am upright and either walking or pedaling. I'd ride my own bike around my neighborhood for exercise, but there's just too much traffic.

By Scrbblchick — On Jan 06, 2015

I like a recumbent bike better, because it's not as tough on my back, but the bike and treadmill are the only pieces of equipment I can use without getting sick. The ellipticals and stair steppers trigger extreme motion sickness. I can get queasy just thinking about using either one of them.

My trainer didn't believe me and put me on an elliptical and when I nearly fell off because I was so dizzy and sick, she believed me then. Now we stick with the exercise bike, treadmill and weights. They’re working, and I can stay on them long enough for them to be effective.

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