Riding an Exercise Bike on Dialysis

Things and people change. About a year ago my mate Max said that he had used an exercise bike at another unit he visited on holidays and thought it was great. He also said that studies showed riding for the first hour of a BigD session resulted in significantly improved phosphate removal due to increased muscle blood flow. Now that I am fitter and handle the BigD well, I wondered how I could give it a try. I found it difficult to imagine what it would look like, much less use.

Actually, it’s pretty good. Max talked to Chris (our Unit Manager) who found a supplier. And Chris arranged for new chair complete with exercise bike attachment, to be made available to the unit for trial all this week.

Here it is.

Bionic Comfortline Chair with Exerciser

Bionic Comfortline Chair with Exerciser

The actual exercise unit is quite small and relatively light (8kg). It snaps on and off (to be replaced by a footrest). Pedalling pressure is adjustable, and there is a small on-board computer to calculate speed, distance, timer, calories, etc.

I set the pressure to low-medium resistance and began pedalling.

Using the Exerciser

Using the Exerciser

It’s not quite comfortable in socks, best to have some gym shoes or slippers, but otherwise it’s actually quite enjoyable.

You get into a constant rhythm and just keep going. I got warm, but not hot or sweaty. Normally, just sitting there you can get quite cold and need a blanket, but not while you’re ‘on the road’.

Here’s Max, showing how it’s done.

You can watch TV or a computer video while you pedal, but it’s not practical to try and read (just a little too much movement). I pedalled for around 30 minutes, which gives you a good benefit and still time for other things: reading, a little computing, sandwiches, cup of tea… three hours can go pretty fast.

Because you have to buy the chair to get the exerciser, this unit is pretty pricey (around $7,000-$8000). The chair is made by Bionic in Germany and distributed in Australia by TekMed. While it’s not feasible to expect the unit to buy one for every station, maybe buy one chair that people use on rotation?

There is also a standalone unit around which costs about $200. I am told that you need to sit upright to ride it, which may not be practical for some BigD club members. However, being so much more affordable, we could buy our own (more about that unit soon).

So, in summary, using an exercise bike as part of the Bigd treatment looks like it has legs!

4 thoughts on “Riding an Exercise Bike on Dialysis

  1. Pingback: Riding an Exercise bike Dialysis – Part 2 « Big D and Me

  2. Hi
    thank you for posting this – i’m a physio trying to set up a cycling service for our HD patients and i will certainly direct them to your blog page if they aren’t sure about. its great that you have had such a positive experience with the bikes


    • Hi Hannah, thanks for your comment! A little more info: the Chattanooga ran out of puff after about 8 months of regular use. It is an inferior belt and cog design. I have since purchased a Magneciser, which uses magnetic resistance rather than friction. Much more sturdy, hardwearing and silent, and around the same price. Greg


  3. thanks for your reply – i read this and went for a few top of the range bikes so they were hard waring. we now have 30 people exercising regularly on dialysis and 20 waiting for the chance to get started – now a lack of my time is the problem! had some amazing things happen – one guy no longer needs to take insulin or blood pressure meds, another can now garden and do all kinds of things he thought he would have to give up. i will keep sending my patients your way!


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