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Response to reader

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Which exercise machine should I buy?

Dear Dr Gardner,

I am thinking of buying an exercise machine and I am seeking your advice on the most effective one. I want to tone up and keep fit as most of my working time is spent at a desk.

It's too dangerous to walk these days as the mornings are too dark. There are some affordable exercise machines such as the spin bike and air bike but the treadmill might put too much pressure on my pocket right now. Awaiting your response.

- Sonia


Dear Sonia,

Cycling continues to rank among the popular exercises at the gym. A good stationary bicycle or ergometer is one of the most economical, popular and efficient home-exercise equipment. The stationary bicycle ranks high on the list of equipment that provide an efficient cardiovascular workout and it also will help you burn calories and lose some weight.

Ergometers are exercise friendly. They provide you with the opportunity to manually control the speed and resistance of your workout and therefore give you the choice of making your programme as novel or challenging as you wish. A major hallmark of the ergometer is its accessibility; you can exercise at any time of the day, at your convenience without having to worry about the weather, the route and the ever- so-important safety factor. Ergometers provide you with a lot of independence.

Spin bikes

Bikes have been engineered to cater to a variety of interests and tastes. However, you should try to acquire a durable bike because cycling could now become a relatively permanent lifestyle activity for you. Ergometers are now made with many features to improve the cycling experience. Spin bikes, for example, are designed with adjustable seats and a resistance lever that allows for easy control and calibration of the intensity of the resistance during the workout.

Spin bikes have weighted fly wheels in the front that give the feel of riding on a real bicycle. Spin bikes will provide you with a combination of five basic movements and five workout stages. This caters to a variety of individual goals and needs and keeps one interested in the activity. The basic exercise movements are performed when seated flat; when seated in the basic seated bike-riding position; seated in a hill-climb position; sitting in the basic seated position but with increased resistance on the bike, and riding in the standing position.

Low-impact activity

The ergometer provides you with a low-impact activity even more so when you are in the seated position. Riding is a non-weight-bearing activity that reduces the risks of injury because your legs and joints are not under pressure as is the case in running, walking or jogging (even if these activities are performed on the cushioned treadmill).

The ergometer is an exceptional tool for setting a convenient pace in your workout. Maintaining a steady workout pace is essential if you want to see the benefits of your workout. You can create your own programme that targets your specific needs. Cycling is an excellent exercise if you should develop any ambulatory or orthopaedic problems. It is one of the main equipment used in the field of rehabilitation.

Dr Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at Holiday Hills Research Center; email: