Recumbent bikes burn fewer calories than most cardio machines, but they're still effective.
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If you've tried a recumbent bicycle, you already know that pedaling it is different from using an upright bike because you're your feet are pushing horizontally instead of vertically. The different way the recumbent bike works affects how many calories you can burn in one hour. Recumbent bikes provide an effective cardio workout and they're a good alternative if you can't use an upright bike, but other forms of cardio will burn more cals.
Average the Calories
The calories you'll expend on any piece of cardio equipment depends on how much effort you're putting into your workout, as well as how much you weigh. That's because it takes less energy and burns fewer calories to move a smaller mass than a larger one. A person who weighs 150 pounds will burn between 4 and 7 calories per minute pedaling at a moderate intensity on a recumbent bike. That averages out to 330 calories an hour. If that same 150-pound person pedals faster at a higher intensity, he'll burn more calories; pedaling at a slower pace with less than moderate intensity will burn fewer.
Same Effort, Less Burn
Maybe you like to switch back and forth between the recumbent and upright bikes to add some variety to your aerobic workout. The two aren't interchangeable, however, when it comes to burning calories. The reality is that it's more difficult to get your heart rate up in the semi-reclined position a recumbent bike puts you in. So even if you put the same amount of effort into a session on the recumbent bike as you would an upright bike, you'll burn fewer calories - about 20 percent fewer - because your heart rate won't get as high.
Unload Your Joints
Even though you may be able to burn more calories using other cardio machines, the recumbent bike is still an effective option for weight loss. It can be very useful for beginners or those who are overweight because the position you sit in to pedal a recumbent bike takes stress off your ankles, knees and hips. It has a cushioned back support, so it can be easier on your lower back, too.
Make Your Choice
You will burn calories using a recumbent bike, so it's up to you to decide whether it is the best choice for your aerobic workout. You're more likely to do exercises that you enjoy. So if you prefer the recumbent bike over an upright bike or any other type of cardio equipment, you're likely to see better results than with a piece of equipment that you don't enjoy using.