Riding a bike in an exotic location is a great workout, but going on vacation in order to get some exercise is probably not a realistic option. Instead of traveling to a distant place, try bringing the beautiful scenery right into your home. Virtual bike riding is an in-home option for a great workout that is both enjoyable and physically satisfying.
Virtual Bike Ride Equipment
The upper-end models cost several thousand dollars and are often only an option for gyms and health clubs. On the lower end, you can buy a DVD with biking footage from exotic locales for around $20 and watch while pedaling away on your regular stationary bike.
If you want a more authentic virtual bike riding experience, there are stationary bikes with a built-in screen right in front of the handlebars. When riding one of these bikes, you don't have to worry about a separate remote and screen to manage in addition to the bike itself. Just hop on the bike and the world is at your fingertips.
Types of Interactive Exercise Bikes
Some interactive bikes have the game system built in, so that all you have to do is plug in the system, choose your game preference and start pedaling. Other systems require you to use an external gaming console like a PlayStation or Wii system that plugs into the bike, using the bike as a game controller. Some of these systems also enable you to hook into a wireless Internet system. These wireless systems allow you to compete against other riders worldwide. You can also save your riding performance, allowing you to compete against yourself at a later date.
The Expresso Bike comes in adult and youth sizes. The bike offers a built-in LCD screen loaded with interactive cycling routes, games and social networking capabilities. A new rider creates a profile and log-in so that the computer can store and track information. You can race against your own "ghost," race against other riders and compare your times to riders worldwide. You can also link your profile to your Facebook and Twitter accounts to share your workouts with your friends.
The Exerbike GS Recumbent bike hooks up to any Xbox game and uses pedal-to-play technology. You can use biking games, or use the bike to pedal your way through car, boat and motorcycle games as well. The bike adjusts to hold users of any size, and includes several programs you can use to customize your exercise routine.
If you want to use a virtual bike to help strengthen your mind as well as your body, consider the CyberCycle. This recumbent bike with an attached 19-inch HD monitor works to stimulate your mind while you pedal your way through the course. Work your way through three dimensional scenery with steering and shift controls that help you feel like you're right on the road.
An option for virtual racing is the Tacx virtual reality trainers, which simulate a racing experience between you and up to five other contestants. You connect with the other contestants via the Internet. Not only do you get the thrill of a race on a bike that simulates the terrain you see on the screen, but you inevitably get a great workout too as you strive to win the race.
Stationary Bikes with Video Accompaniment
If you're looking for a virtual biking experience without the price tag, consider the wide array of biking DVDs and websites that offer filmed footage to inspire you on your indoor rides. While these DVDs won't change the resistance on your bike when you are riding uphill (you can do that yourself), the images do provide a stimulating exercise experience.
Virtual Biking DVDs
- Virtual Active: These dozen DVDs (to purchase separately or as a pack) feature a series of four American tours. Each DVD is 40 minutes long and features one region of America.
- Global Ride: With DVDs featuring France, Italy, Hawaii and more, these DVDs feature the scenery of the chosen destination, as well as having a theme, such as endurance or strength-centered riding.
- Bicycle DVDs: These scenic DVDs showing the Maine Coast, the Hollywood Hills and the British Isles, provide high-definition footage and cool-down scenery to enjoy after your intense workout.
Virtual Biking Streaming
- Cycling Videos Online offers a collection of videos taken in various places. Some content is free for online viewing while other content is available for purchase.
- Veoh.com has several virtual bike ride tours, such as one of Redondo Beach. For free online streaming, this site is a quality option.
While with indoor cycling there's no risk of getting hit by a car or flying over the steering wheel when dodging a cat, all exercise comes with precautions. If you're currently inactive, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor before jumping into an exercise program. This is especially true if you are overweight, have a medical condition, or are reaching a mature age.
Also remember to warm up thoroughly before each workout. Your risk of injury drops dramatically if you spend 5-10 minutes warming up and lightly stretching before getting down to the serious workout. The same goes for stretching and cooling down after your workout; many cramps and muscle aches can be prevented by doing this. Some virtual bike ride exercise bikes have a built-in feature for warming up and cooling down; use these to prevent injury.