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What is the best exercise bike for knee problems? People have used these bikes to rehab their knees after injuries, replacements, and other surgeries. I hope this article will help you find the best exercise bike for ‘bad knees.’
While it was a difficult choice, the Slim Cycle Stationary Folding Bike wins my vote for best exercise bike for knee problems in 2021.
5 Of The Best Exercise Bikes For Knee Problems
- Slim Cycle Stationary Folding Bike – Recumbent And Upright – Rated 92/100 based on 6,100 reviews
- XTERRA Fitness FB150 Folding Exercise Bike – Rated 92/100 – 5,330 reviews
- Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike With Pulse – Rated 90/100 – 13,577 Reviews
- Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike With Performance Monitor – Rated 90/100 based on 3,846 reviews
- Exerpeutic Gold Heavy Duty Foldable Exercise Bike With 400 Lbs Weight Capacity– 4.5 out of 5 stars – 2,500 reviewshav
Why are exercise bikes a good option for people with ‘bad knees’? I remember the pain like it was yesterday. I was 12 years old and playing ‘wall ball’ with my friends. When I turned to dash to the wall, I felt the excruciating stabs as my knee scraped out of joint and I hit the pavement.
It wasn’t until years later that I learned I had torn my lateral collateral ligament (LCL) in my knee. To this day, I do not have an LCL in my left knee. Thanks to some hard training, countless hours of riding exercise bikes, and my physiotherapists, I was able to play football. I also received my black belt in Tae Kwan Do, and was even able to walk 2,600 miles from Canada to Mexico.
Exercise bikes may be a great way to rehab knees. Exercise bikes could also be great for helping to keep one’s knees strong, mobile, and limber. In the Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, Dr. Mats Ericson, Ph. D. explains that cycling is a useful “exercise in the rehabilitation of patients with injuries to the knee.”
Dr. Ericson also mentions that exercise bikes might be especially useful for those with injuries to the “anterior cruciate ligament” [ACL and] “medial collateral ligament” (MCL).
Exercise bikes also tend to be great for people who are:
- Seeking a low-impact way to get a work out in without unnecessary joint pain
- Looking for a gentle way to improve the strength and mobility of their legs and knees
- Following their doctors advice to use an exercise bike daily
- Ready to rehabilitate after an injury or surgery
- Wanting to read or watch TV while working out their legs and knees
- Seeking an alternative to running without the knee pain
- Needing a safer alternative to riding a bike outside
- Wanting to lose weight in the comfort of their home
- Intimidated by or unable to go the gym
- Looking to improve their health and fitness
- Looking to strengthen or tone their legs or glutes
- Excited to enjoy a variety of workouts with one piece of equipment at home
- Otherwise limited in movement
What is the best type of exercise bike to rehab knee?
When looking for an exercise bike, the main options are recumbent, semi-recumbent, and upright. Some exercise bikes are adjustable and can be used in the recumbent, semi-recumbent, or upright positions. Researchers saw no significant difference between the level of activation of muscle groups between recumbent and upright exercise bikes.
Pros of recumbent exercise bikes:
- Researchers have found that recumbent bikes are useful for patients in their early stages of recovery.
- Recumbent exercise bikes are especially helpful for people looking to improve their ability to step up, sit, or stand.
- Good for people with lower back problems
- A nice option for people who don’t like sitting on regular bicycle seats
- Can help your back stay in a more relaxed position
- Many people find them more comfortable to sit on for longer periods
- Often easier to get on and off than upright bikes. This is often helpful for those with limited movement.
- Can be great for people who struggle with balance or weak legs.
- People are often advised to use recumbent bikes to rehabilitate after a stroke or injury.
- Recumbent exercise bikes may cause less stress on knee joints.
- Sitting in a less upright, position puts less weight on the knee joints
If you are looking for a recumbent exercise bike I review some here
Pros of upright exercise bikes
- They tend to take up less space than recumbent bikes
- More like riding a road or mountain bike
- People training for races or longer rides may find their buttocks will get more used to bike seats
- Researchers found “the rectus femoris muscle demonstrated greater activity during upright pedaling” when compared to recumbent pedaling.
Exercise bike tips for people with ‘bad knees’
Let’s say your doctor suggests you start riding an exercise bike as a way to improve your knees
What might get in your way of committing to this daily exercise routine?If you’re anything like me – it’s finding a way to make riding your exercise bike an activity that will actually commit to. But how do you do that?
How does one start and stick to a new habit such as riding an exercise bike to improve your knees?
- What if this habit could become something you actually looked forward to?
- How might your life be different if you were to exercise each day for 30-60 minutes?
Asking yourself questions such as these, can be a great way to get yourself out of bed or off the couch and onto the exercise bike. Implementing research-based habit practices can also be very helpful
Author, Charles Duhigg suggests using cues that trigger you to repeat your habit.
The cues Duhigg has found to be especially effective are as follows:
- Choosing a specific time
- Determining a location or place
- The proceeding habit or behavior
- A particular person associated with the habit
- Choosing an external reward that you enjoy
Here’s an example of what an effective habit plan might look like. Let’s say you set your alarm for 7am.
As you’re waking up and still laying in bed, you don’t really feel like going to ride your exercise bike. You feel tired and are so comfortable. But then you remind yourself to think about why you are committing to riding your exercise bike each day.
- You imagine yourself enjoying your body and health in youthful ways
- Perhaps you see yourself playing with your children or grandkids
- Maybe you see yourself doing something you enjoy such as playing a sport or going for a weekend hike
- You see yourself smiling and feeling youthful and energized
You get up, brush your teeth, and walk straight to your exercise bike.
- You sit down and start watching your favorite show or channel. Slowly riding the bike, you relax and get swooped up into the show you’re watching
- After a few minutes, you decide to start riding faster.
- Within 20 minutes, you realize you are sweating profusely.
- Feelings of pride wash over you as you realize you have stuck to this habit for the last 90 days.
- You feel and move so much better than you did just a few months ago
As you continue with this habit, motivation will likely become less important. You may find that your cardio sessions simply become an automatic part of your daily routine. The positive-feeling endorphins that come with exercising regularly might just offer all the encouragement you need.
Precautions for people with knee problems
Make sure you follow the advice of your doctor or medical professional. It may also be helpful to start small with short rides on your exercise bike. To illustrate, for your first week, you may want to ride your exercise bike for 5 minutes or less.
Starting with a long, strenuous ride may cause excess soreness. While tempting, you may injure yourself. Causing your body pain may also cause your brain to associate your new habit as something painful to avoid.
By starting small and enjoying the experience, you’ll be more likely to stick to it as a long-term habit. Put on your favorite music or movie while you ride. This may further help your brain connect feelings of pleasure with cardio bike sessions. You may even find yourself excited to jump back on the bike!
As you get in better shape you may want to experiment with pedaling at different speeds. If you are looking to build muscle around your knees, Dr. Ericson, Ph. D., found that increasing the “pedalling rate increased the muscular activity in most of the muscles investigated, generally without changing the joint load.”
In other words, pedaling faster will activate more muscles without putting more pressure on your knee joints. Additionally, Dr. Ericson found that “increased saddle height decreased the maximum flexing knee load moment.”
5 of the best exercise bikes for knee problems
Best exercise bike for knee problems?
Rated 92/100 based on 6,475 reviews
- After a knee replacement, one customer explained that this bike helped her bend her knee past 90 degrees again.
- Another person had a bi-lateral knee replacement and used this bike to stick to her goal of riding daily.
- A senior citizen also described this bike as being easy on her knees.
- This bike comes with 10 virtual rides led by Slim Cycle instructors. This might be great if you are looking for some interesting ways to use this bike while strengthening your knees.
- The Slim Cycle exercise bike comes with resistance bands. These are super convenient if you would like to tone your upper body while riding the bike. Moving your upper body will also help you burn more calories. If you are looking to lose weight, this might be a nice bonus.
- This product also works great for people of varying heights. Customers have enjoyed that it works for both shorter and taller members. This could be especially helpful if more than one person in a home is looking to ride the bike. People between the heights 4’11 and 5’10 or taller have reported that this bike fits them well.
- This bike is easy to set up and to move around within a home or into a closet. The bike also slides and folds easily making it extra convenient for moving it around and storing it.
- People with larger midsections have found it is a little tight between the handles on this bike. These people said they would appreciate an extra inch or two of space between the handles on the sides of the bike.
- This is not the best bike for taller people. Some customers over 5’10 have mentioned this bike is a little too small for them.
Best exercise bike for bad knees?
Rated 92/100 – 5,964 reviews
- Following the advice of her knee surgeon, one person enjoys riding this bike daily after a double knee replacement. She found having this bike was essential to stay safe and away from the gym during COVID-19.
- An avid cyclist loved this exercise bike for rehabbing his knee after his second knee surgery. He is training to get back out on the road as soon as possible.
- Another person found this bike helped keep her knee flexible after knee surgery.
- The FB150 folding exercise bike comes with a large anatomically designed seat. Many customers have found this seat to be very comfortable.
As one happy client said:
- It is rare for me and bigger people like me to find seats that are wide enough to be comfortable. This one fits perfect! I have found my knees feel better when I exercise 4-5 times a week. Having a comfortable seat on my exercise bike has really helped me be consistent.
- This foldable exercise bike is extremely quiet. If you live with others and plan to work your knees daily without disturbing your housemates, this bike might be a good choice.
- This bike folds up nicely and takes up roughly a square foot and a half of floor space in the folded position.
- While this bike does not come with a tablet holder, the shape of the handle bars can double as a laptop holder. This can be great if you plan to work from home or would like to watch an episode while strengthening your legs and knees.
- Many people found this bike was really easy to set up. One reviewer said he assembled this bike within 10 minutes.
- A number of people who are around 5 feet tall have found this bike to fit them well.
- Some people complained that this bike can be challenging to get on due to the higher middle bar. People have placed stools or chairs beside their bike to help get on and off.
- Others have found the LCD window and displays are somewhat inaccurate/unreliable.
Best exercise bike for knee problems?
Rated 90/100 – 13,577 reviews
- A long time runner with sore knees found that the smooth, adjustable tension of the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike bike doesn’t cause stress on her knees.
- Following the advice of his health therapist, an 85 year old man also uses this bike for rehab after having both knees replaced. According to his daughter, he uses it daily and “loves” this bike.
- Plenty of customers also appreciate the range of resistance on this exercise bike. This may be nice if you want to experiment with other tensions as your knees and legs get stronger.
People have found the heart rate monitor on the Exerpeutic Magnetic foldable exercise bike is more accurate than those on other bikes. This can be an important feature if you are looking to get a strenuous cardio work out in. For example, if you want to work as hard as running but find pedaling is kinder to your knees.
One customer explains:
- The heart rate monitor on this machine is more accurate than most. After comparing this monitor to her high-caliber heart rate monitor, she found it was within five beats per minute.
- As far as exercise bike seats go, this bike has some of the most positive reviews I have seen thus far:
- One person said this is the widest, most comfortable seat she has used.
- Another person said this seat is even more comfortable than seats on expensive gym bikes.
- If you have found larger bike seats comfortable in the past, this may be a good choice for you. If you have found your thighs rub against wider seats, you may want a bike with a narrower seat. I have found that with a comfortable seat, I am more likely to stick to my exercise bike training routine.
- This bike also folds up easily and has a sleek appearance.
- Several people found the position of the seat too far back relative to the pedals.
- Many satisfied buyers praise the excellent customer service they receive with this bike. Others had mechanical issues with the bike and said they had poor customer service.
Best type of exercise bike to rehab knee?
Rated 90/100 based on 3,846 reviews
- After knee replacement surgery, an 80 year old person found the Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike helped improve her range of motion.
- Following a car accident, another person found this bike helped her get her cardio workouts in. She appreciated this bike worked well with her sore knees and back.
- Many other people have used this bike to strengthen the muscles surrounding their knees following knee injuries.
- The eight tension levels provide a wide range of resistance. This may work well if you are looking to start slow with strengthening your legs, but would like to increase the challenge as you progress.
- Paired with an adjustable desk, this bike might work great as a desk-bike in your home or work office. This can be great for multi-taskers and those with the achiever mindset! Why not improve your knees while doing another task?
- The Expereutic 400XL folding exercise bike has a V-belt double drive transmission. Personal trainers have found this bike rides as smooth as more expensive commercial bikes.
- The heart rate monitor on this bike provides quick and accurate feedback. One customer compared the Expereutic heart rate monitor to his chest strap monitor. He found it was very similar. This can be great for high intensity interval training or if you are looking to aim for a specific challenge as you progress with your cardio and leg strength.
- Many customers have found this bike easy to assemble.
- The extended weight capacity also supports up to 300lbs.
- Some people who were over 6 feet tall found that they could not properly extend their legs on this bike. People shorter than 5’ have found this bike works for them (especially if they put a pillow on the back rest).
- This bike has a semi recumbent design. Of the semi recumbent bikes, this might be a great choice – but some customers prefer bikes with a true recumbent design.
Best type of exercise bike to rehab knee?
Rated 90/100 – 2,773 reviews
- After a knee replacement, one person rode this bike everyday and found her knees hurt less than using an upright stationary bike.
- Another person uses this bike to get her arthritic knee ‘going’ every morning.
- Someone else explained the semi-recumbent design of this bike was far easier on his knees than his previous fully recumbent bike.
- The Exerpeutic Heavy Duty foldable exercise bike has an extended weight capacity for up to 400lbs. People weighing up to 390lbs who are well over six feet tall have said this bike is extremely strong and fits them well.
- This bike is also more affordable than other higher weight capacity exercise bikes. Exercise bikes for people in the 350 to 400lb range often cost $1300 and up.
- The added steel in the frame makes the Gold Heavy Duty bike extra sturdy. This is a bonus if you weigh over 300lbs and want to know you won’t break the bike in half during one of your rides.
- While this bike is great for larger-bodied folks, it is also adjustable. The Gold Heavy Duty bike has fit people as small as 5 feet, 2 inches who weigh less than 120lbs. If you are larger and your spouse is smaller (or vice versa), this bike might fit both of you.
- At about 51lbs, this exercise bike is heavier than many other exercise bikes. Thankfully, it comes with wheels if you need to move it. The bike also folds up.
- Some customers stated that the customer service exceeded expectations. Others have complained that the customer service did not adequately solve their problems.
Which Bike Wins In The Category For Best Exercise Bike for bad knees in 2021
The Slim Cycle Stationary Folding Bike – Recumbent and Upright wins for best foldable exercise bike.
I like the flexibility of this adjustable exercise bike. Not only does it offer the resistance bands for an added upper body workout, but it can be used in the upright and recumbent position.
Based on my research, it also received the highest rating even though it was reviewed by more people than the other exercise bikes.