Recumbent bicycle, comfortable and back-friendly, gains in popularity

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

November 30, 2003|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

Does a recumbent bike work different muscles than a traditional stationary bike, or is it just designed differently for comfort?

The recumbent bike, in which you sit in a reclined position with your back supported and your feet outstretched, is gaining popularity these days at the gym.

Mark Milani, a trainer at the Downtown Athletic Club, in Baltimore, says, "If we're making a choice around here, most of the people are going for the recumbent cycle." There are technical differences between the two kinds of bikes, Milani notes, but for most riders, "usually the difference is comfort."

Recumbent bikes have wider, more comfortable seats, and if you sit in a recumbent position, he says, "you will fatigue at a slower rate."

Personal trainer Bill Camp, a colleague of Milani's, says that a workout on a recumbent bike gives the glutes and hamstrings a better workout than an upright bike. Most importantly, Camp adds, "it's good for people with a bad back."

I'm not very in tune with when I'm hungry and when I'm full. Even after a big meal, I sometimes still feel like eating. If my stomach isn't growling, how do I know if I'm really hungry?

Not recognizing the feeling of being full is a bad habit, and one worth trying to break. To squelch a craving not rooted in hunger, start a post-meal ritual such as drinking tea, brushing your teeth or going for a walk. If you think you might be mistaking another emotion for hunger, stop and ask yourself a simple question before taking that bite: "What's on my mind right now?"

If the answer is a stack of unpaid bills or a fight with your significant other, food is not going to help. Take care of the problem at hand. If you still feel hungry afterward, you can eat then.

I recently started a new job, and I wear high heels every day. On the days after I go jogging, my knees ache. Are high heels bad for you long-term?

Listen to your body. Are the extra two inches of calves worth the long-term health risk to you? While they do wonders for women's looks, high heels are fundamentally unnatural for the joints and muscles in the legs. Some people can wear them five days a week without any problems, but if you are having knee pain, lay off the heels.

Replace your pumps with shoes that are foot-friendly (think more cushion, less heel). These days it's easy to find shoes that are both chic and easy on your feet. If nothing else, adopt the businesswoman's best-kept secret: a pair of bedroom slippers tucked under the desk.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness@baltsun.com.

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