Pros: Easy to use, builds muscle, portable
Cons: Very weak for aerobic or cardio exercise
Well, Dear Readers, I've been away from Epinions for awhile. During that time I lost about 65 pounds. How, I thought, could I sit at the computer reading and writing, when I should be out exercising? Well, thanks to this handy gadget- the mini cycle exercise bike- I am able to join you today, typing and burning calories at the same time.
Now, granted, it's not the same workout as an elliptical machine or even a regular stationary bike (which I painfully discovered on a recent trip to the gym after some absence). The exercise I am able to get from the mini cycle is about the same as walking, although it is probably less aerobic. The cardio element is definitely something you miss from this equipment compared to a stationary bike.
What is the exercise from the mini cycle like? Done for short periods of time it's like stretching. It can build some muscle if you use it frequently. It's not the answer to every exercise need, but it's given me the ability to sit guilt-free in front of the computer or tv.
Basically the mini cycle is a set of bike pedals. You can adjust the tension to give varying levels of resistance. You are supposed to sit in a hard, straight backed chair but of course I always sit at a an office chair or the couch. There are stirrups for your feet, but I don't like to use them, not only for the unpleasant Dr.'s office associations, but also because it irritates my feet after awhile. So I like to balance my foot on the flat part of the pedal as if I was riding a bike. Another variation I like is to put different parts of my feet on the pedal- the heel, the ball of the foot, the middle of the foot, etc. I don't know if there is really an exercise benefit but the circulation in my feet feels better.
I like to vary the distance from my body at which I set the pedals. If I keep the pedals close, like I do when I am typing, it works my abs a little. When I set them further away, like while watching tv, I feel more muscles in my legs stretching.
I have read that to increase metabolism, working on leg muscles is one the best uses of your exercise time. Apparently the size of the leg muscles means you are working out more muscle mass. Also losing as much weight as I have means loose skin (ew, I know). Building muscle mass anywhere seems to help alleviate the problem. Another benefit is that walking an hour or more (even at a pace that will not really burn fat) is helpful for me to stabilize blood sugar (I'm not diabetic but I'm watchful of it). The mini cycle allows me to basically take a walk anytime I want.
I'm not an expert on muscles, so I will describe the main parts of the legs that I think the cycle benefits: the muscles on the underside of the kneecap, the calf, the muscle around the shins, and to a lesser extent the thigh. I think it helps create a better-shaped leg, and who can argue with that? Not my husband (oops- let's stick to the product review, shall we?).
Supposedly you can set it on a table and work out your arms. But who has a table cleared off enough for that? Seriously though, I tried it one time and it felt awkward. But I have short arms, so others might have better luck.
I purchased mine at Walmart for around $20. The cycle was easy to put together (just attach the pedals and the rubber tips). The rubber tips for the ends of the frame keep the cycle from sliding and eliminate sharp ends. Young children should not play with it, but there aren't any obvious finger-pinching hazards as the pedal mechanism is fairly well contained. The biggest safety hazard is tripping over it when one has fallen asleep on the couch after using it during an entire Law and Order: Criminal Intent marathon and suddenly woken up and forgotten about it being there.
It is very light weight and therefore be moved easily between the tv and the computer. Also you can travel with it, a great relief after a trip to my Mom's when I discovered her so-called exercise bike was built in 1937 and was as easy to mount as a skittish horse (sorry Mom!).
After using the cycle, I am able to wear actual boots, not just ankle boots, for the first time due to using the mini cycle. That's definitely worth the purchase price right there, and then some!