An adult can reap the health benefits of exercise with just 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week, according to the National Health Service. If you have limited mobility or an injury, managing 30 minutes of exercise is particularly challenging. Foot pedal exercisers are compact pieces of exercise equipment designed to enable individuals with limited mobility to increase their heart rate with small movements rather than whole-body exercises. If you have physical limitations that prevent regular exercise, a foot pedal exerciser offers the benefits of exercise without the physical demands of regular exercise.
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Exercise foot pedals are designed to mimic the movement required to pedal a road or stationary bicycle. Instead of the additional gears, wheels and seating, foot pedal exercisers consist of only two flat pedals attached to a small exposed or enclosed metal frame. Most foot pedal exercisers are small enough to fit on a table so that you can create the motion with your hands as well as your feet. Some foot pedal exercisers also come equipped with varying levels of resistance gears to simulate more challenging terrain and put additional stress on muscles for strength training. Another type of foot pedal is a single plastic pedal that sits flush on the floor; this type of pedal more closely resembles a car accelerator. It is used in the treatment of blood clots of deep vein thrombosis rather than for general exercise.
Foot pedal exercisers simulate a bike-like workout, but some pedal exercisers for use with arms also simulate a jogging-like work out. Most models are equipped for use on either your arms or your legs, and both methods raise your heart rate to deliver an aerobic workout which raises your heart rate and stimulates blood flow. If you opt for a model equipped with resistance gears, your foot pedal exerciser also helps build lower or upper body muscle strength and helps tone both large and small muscle groups.
Uses and benefits
Some athletes use foot pedal exercisers as part of their training regimen for a triathlon or race. Foot pedal exercisers are part of many rehabilitation programs for people with spinal cord or extremity injuries. Individuals with spinal cord injuries were able to raise their heart rates and systolic blood pressure with a foot pedal exerciser, according to a 2008 study published in the "Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine". The increase in blood circulation and rehearsal of muscle control is integral to recovery from serious injuries. Foot pedal exercisers were also found to increase the average walking speed of elderly patients in a 2005 study published in the journal titled "Ortopedia, Traumatologia, Rehabilitacja". The study found that exercising with a foot pedal exerciser aided in the recovery of elderly patients who received hip transplants.
Though the results are promising, the long-term benefits of foot pedal exercises in rehabilitation settings have not been substantiated by research. If you are considering a foot pedal exerciser because of limited mobility, note that many models must be assembled and you may require assistance to ensure proper set-up. As with any exercise machine, you are still at risk for injury, particularly muscle strains or sprains in your wrists, forearms, ankles or calves. If you are considering a foot pedal exerciser for weight loss or weight management, know that the isolated movements of a foot pedal exerciser are not as efficient at burning calories as methods of exercising like jogging or running, which require the use of more muscle groups.
In order to reap health and weight loss benefits of a foot pedal exerciser, the NHS recommends exercising to a moderate intensity for 30 minutes at a time. However, the amount of work performed during exercise is measured by your heart rate; if you are using your foot pedal exerciser for 30 minutes but not experiencing a raise in heart rate, then your body may not be performing enough work to benefit from the exercise. To determine your target heart rate, consult a resource such as gymuser.co.uk., which can calculate a target heart rate for you based on your age and your resting heart rate. Consult with your doctor about your target heart rate if you suffer from cardiovascular medical conditions to avoid further injury or illness.
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- The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine: Efficacy of a new rehabilitative device for individuals with spinal cord injury
- PubMed.gov: Walking speed in elderly patients undergoing rehabilitation after hip replacement
- National Health Service: Physical activity guidelines for adults