E-bikes are certainly great for convenience and fun, but how good are they for your fitness? A lot of people like biking precisely because of the exercise and don’t want to feel like they are ‘cheating’ with an electric bike.
The good news is that e-bikes promote exercise just as much as regular bikes, and even more in some cases.
Studies Show eBiking Is Good Exercise
One study published in the journal Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives analyzed physical activity related to various transportation modalities such as walking, cycling, walking, running, etc. across 7 European cities.
The study found that e-bikers actually got slightly more exercise on average than traditional pedal bikes. The authors suggest that the results are due to the fact that e-bikers spend more time cycling in general than traditional bikers and also travel longer distances on average. The same study also found that the average age of e-bikers was older than traditional bikers.
The above study was performed in Europe, so it may not be generalizable to all countries and regions. However, a recent 2019 study from Brigham Young University found that e-biking requires just as much physical effort as riding a traditional bike. The study looked at 33 men between the ages of 18 and 65 while riding both traditional and pedal-assist mountain bikes and measured their heart rates as they rode through a six-mile course.
Afterward, the researchers compared data and found that the average heart rate of those riding e-bikes was 94% the rate of those riding traditional bikes; well within the range of vigorous-intensity heart activity conducive for cardio exercise. Even experienced mountain bikers who rode e-bikers had a similarly high heart rate.
Interestingly enough, the vast majority of participants said they felt like they got significantly less exercise than they would have on a traditional bike, despite heart rate monitors showing that they were getting almost as much. The researchers suggest that e-bikes could be an excellent way to introduce exercise to sedentary people because it is perceived as less intense and more casual.
Studies Show eBiking Is Good For Weight Loss
Another study focused on how e-bike exercise effects cardiometabolic (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, etc.) risk factors. The study followed 20 sedentary participants and measured various cardiometabolic markers over a 4 week period of regular exercise. Participants were instructed to pedal for at least 40 minutes a day, 3 days a week.
The results showed that regular e-biker exercise significantly improved post-workout glucose response levels, lowered median blood pressure levels, and participants lost an average of 11.4 kg of fat mass. Many participants said they actually rode more than was required because they enjoyed riding so much.
Studies Show eBiking Is Good For Mental Health
There is also evidence that e-bikes can be good for cognitive and mental health as well. A study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that regular e-bike exercise in outdoor environments can improve cognitive functioning, mental health, and wellbeing in seniors. The study followed 100 seniors, 36 who rode traditional bikes, 38 who rode e-bikes, and 26 who were non-cycling controls.
Participants were instructed to cycle at least 30 minutes a day at least 3 days a week for an 8-week period. The results showed that the cyclers showed significant improvements to executive functioning, processing speed, and reported well being compared to the control group. Importantly, e-bikers showed more improvement in some mental metrics than the traditional pedal cyclists.
Here’s a helpful video showing that a lot of effort is still required, and that heart rate is definitely elevated using an eBike:
All these results suggest that the physical and mental benefits of e-bikes are the same as traditional bikes, and can even be better in some cases. E-bikes seem to be perceived as more “fun” so people tend to spend more time on them than they would on a regular bike. The result is that they end up getting more exercise overall, and feel good while doing it.
Overall, e-bikes and normal bikes are made for different purposes. Those who want convenience should opt for an e-bike while those who want a more physically demanding experience should get a normal bike. However, even an e-bike can be a great source of exercise.
The exercise benefits of e-bikes are largely the same as those of traditional bikes. Riding an e-bike will help you lose weight, strengthen your heart, lower your blood pressure, increase your metabolism, and give you clarity of mind that only a nice bike ride could give.Last updated on: