“Who said exercise couldn’t be enjoyable?!”

Home exercise equipment for chronic pain

Please note: Below I’ve provided links to Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate and only promote products that I truly believe in. I may receive compensation if you purchase an item through one of my links , but this in no way affects the cost to you. Thank you!

Do you live with chronic pain or functional limitations? Problems such as back, hip, or knee pain from surgeries or arthritis can all take a toll on your daily life. Normal activities such as walking up stairs, mowing the lawn, entering and exiting the shower, and walking around the block become tremendously difficult. Let alone trying to exercise!

So what are you supposed to do if your doctor tells you to start exercising? What’s the next step if you’ve finished rehab/physical therapy and they tell you to keep working out? Even if you have access to a gym, just traveling to the gym can be taxing and requires a mode of transport. The easiest home exercise plan to stick to is the one that takes place right there – at home.

There’s one piece of equipment that I’ve found to be very effective for almost anyone with some sort of chronic pain or functional limitation. It can be adapted to fit your specific needs and is ideal for any body size.  And it’s not a $1000 treadmill or a $250 stationary bike! But it helps increase your endurance, strengthens your muscles, and builds up your heart. You not only are able to exercise with it but also can improve your stamina and become able to complete your activities of daily living (ADLS) with less difficulty and less breaks.

So what’s the one exercise tool that I recommend above all others for those with chronic pain or functional limitations?

It’s the bike pedal exerciser.

Please note: Below I’ve provided links to Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate and only promote products that I truly believe in. I may receive compensation if you purchase an item through one of my links , but this in no way affects the cost to you. Thank you!


What’s a bike pedal exerciser?

It’s a small machine with pedals attached that is used by pedaling with your hands OR feet. If you have hip or knee pain, you can swap out the pedals for handles and pedal with your arms. Likewise, if you have shoulder or wrist pain, you can use this machine with your legs. If you have bad leg days but some good days too, this machine is so versatile that you can switch it back and forth as needed! It also has different resistance settings which makes it ideal for beginners and experienced exercisers alike.

What I think makes the bike pedal exerciser so special is that it can literally be done anywhere. When using it as a sort of recumbent bike you can sit in your favorite chair, watching TV and pedaling away. For your arms, just set the machine on a table (a small side table may work best to avoid hitting your elbows). Who said exercise couldn’t be enjoyable?!

Pinty Mini Exercise Bike Pedal Exerciser Portable Cycle Lightweight (Black)

How is it beneficial?

The bike pedal exerciser provides a form of cardio, or aerobic exercise. That means the effort you use to push against the resistance during a continuous period of time will elevate your heart rate and blood pressure, making your heart work a little to get stronger. It also works your muscles to provide them with endurance too.

You may think – why do I want to elevate my heart rate and blood pressure? Don’t I want those to be low? And yes, excellent question, because you do. But while exercise brings them up, afterwards it brings them back down, often decreasing blood pressure to lower than it was prior to exercise. Not to mention the other benefits of being active like decreasing your chance of a heart attack and retaining your mobility. Thus cardio can be extremely beneficial for someone with high blood pressure (also called hypertension). However, of course work with your doctor to make sure your blood pressures are controlled at rest (at least <140/90) so that they do not elevate too high during exercise).

How do you start?

When you start out, start light. That is always the best way to start. It reduces the chance of injury and gives your heart and muscles time to adjust to the new workload. Put it on the lightest resistance. When using legs, try to go for 10 minutes and then stop and rest for a few minutes. Then repeat. I write this as 10:10, meaning two separate work periods of 10 minutes with rest in between. Over time (like every week), increase the duration by 5 minutes so then you do 15:10, 15:15, 20:15, 20:20, 30 minutes without stopping, etc.

With the arms, it may feel a little harder. While your legs are made up of large muscles that are used to holding you up as you walk around all day, your arms aren’t used to that sort of work. They have smaller blood vessels and therefore can make you tire more quickly. This is normal. When starting with arms, go slow and do 5-10 minutes. Once again, gradually increase the duration by 5 minutes.

If it feels HARD, stop! It should feel challenging, it should feel somewhat hard, but if you are huffing and puffing and starting to struggle, stop and take a break. There is nothing wrong with taking a break when starting out.

Over time, try to increase to 150 minutes of exercise a week. For weight loss, closer to 300 minutes may be more effective. But don’t start there! Slowly work up to it. Give your body time to adjust. For more on exercise basics, check out my post The Basics of a Healthy Exercise Routine.

And with any exercise, form is crucial. Although you can sit and watch TV while pedaling, make sure that you’re sitting up straight. When your foot is the furthest it can get from you, you should have a slight bend in the knee; no locking your knees every time you go around. The same is true for your arms. And be sure to not overextend your shoulder when moving your arms forward. Keep the circles in a comfortable range of motion.

If you have any questions about this machine, feel free to comment below or message me! I’ve chosen this particular model to share from Amazon because it’s one of the sturdier versions out there, allows you to switch from foot pedals to handles, and has adjustable foot straps so it can fit anyone of any size. The price reflects these features, which I think make it absolutely worth it. I know a lot of patients who have had a lot of success from this little contraption. Best of luck, and happy exercising!


(Right now the price is listed at $56.99 – I’ll update it if the price changes!)

Check it out!

Pinty Mini Exercise Bike Pedal Exerciser Portable Cycle Lightweight (Black)




Disclaimer: Before starting any exercise regimen you
should consult your physician. I am not a medical
doctor. While I am a registered nurse and certified
personal trainer, my scope of practice does not
permit me to diagnose or provide treatment plans.
While this information is from scientific sources,
this post is meant to be informative and does not
replace the professional advice from a physician.