At first glance, this seems like an oxymoron. How do E-Bikes, that have an electric motor, have any health ebike benefits? It’s like saying that driving a car has health benefits. Sounds wrong, right?
Well, it’s not wrong. Most Electric Bikes don’t pedal instead of you, they just assist you with climbing hills or riding with heavy loads. E-Bikes make pedaling easier. E-Bikes also let riders cross longer distances, and can be used by bigger, heavier riders that might not be able to ride a regular bicycle.
There are three types of E-Bikes – Pedal Assist (called Pedelec Bikes) , Throttle Controlled and bikes that are a combination of these two or can switch between these two modes. We’ll only look at Pedelec and combined bikes, because throttle only ones are much closer to an electric moped or motorcycle than a bike in terms of health benefits.
To find out how healthy an activity is, let’s first take a look at how much an average person should exercise per week.
How Much Should You Exercise Anyway?
If the benefits of regular exercise could fit into an easy to swallow pill, that pill would be the greatest medicine humankind ever invented. But there’s no such pill, and our physical fitness is our own responsibility.
The US Government recommends that people exercise at least 2.5 hours of moderately-intense aerobic exercise per week, or 1 hour 15 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. For those that are into fitness, this might seem like one simple extended gym session; but 80% of Americans aren’t reaching that goal.
And most first-world countries around the world have a similar problem. Longer work hours mean less gym hours, less willpower and less overall health.
There are many problems with starting a fitness routine like the time and money costs, getting educated on what works and what you might try out, trying out different diets and exercises…
Honestly, it’s a nightmare for any newcomer and most people give up and go back to living an extremely unhealthy lifestyle. One more New Year’s resolution down the drain. Gyms aren’t the best solution for everyone.
Electric Bikes and Exercise
Electric Bikes are an answer to some people’s fitness problem. Some people might prefer the gym and free weights, others like CrossFit, while some prefer the swimming pool. And this is completely okay; an E-Bike isn’t some magical cure that everyone will like (or is able to ride).
Riding an E-Bike isn’t hard, and most participants in the study had a heart rate of about 75% of their maximum. This counts as a moderate workout, precisely what most doctors around the world prescribe. It’s a well-known fact that working out staves off heart disease, cancer, depression, diabetes, high blood sugar and many other diseases.
But people that love bikes (or used to love them when they were younger) that can’t easily ride one can try the Electric Bike, and find themselves loving every second of it.
Having fun using E-Bikes can encourage people to be more active and to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Let’s not forget that the scenery changes when you ride your Electric Bike, and you’ll enjoy the fresh air. This is fantastic for your mental health.
Mental Health Benefits
There are 3 mental health benefits we’ve come across while we’ve researched this topic: e-bikers get their weekly suggested vitamin D and sunshine, and the small communities that form are a fantastic cure for loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression.
A simple to and from work e-bike commute made all the difference for some people, and they looked forward to riding their bike instead of being stuck in traffic. Not having to worry about parking space, or traffic jams does wonders for your well-being.
We didn’t expect this, but riding e-bikes is especially great for older riders, and there are studies that show that older folks on e-bikes actually beat their regular bike riding companions in mental clarity. It’s not precisely known why this happens, but we guess that it’s the higher speeds and longer distances that activate the brain more.
Physical Health Benefits – E-Biking to Better Health
Studies in the US and Norway have found that electric bike riders were having fun and going over long distances, going above and beyond the call of fitness. Most people riding E-Bikes have said that they’re having fun, and this is a very fun way to exercise.
As stated before, E-Biking is a medium-intensity workout, and because it’s so easy to do, you’ll get to those sweet 2.5 hours of biking per week in no time. Not many people know this, but overtraining has some adverse health effects too. Keeping yourself in the “green” will give you the most benefits with the lowest risk.
E-Bikes improve joint muscle strength in a slower and safer way than a regular bike, which is especially important for people recovering from knee strains or injuries. It’s easier to pedal a bike than to walk, and it’s super easy to pedal an e-bike.
Regular Bicycle vs. Electric Bicycle
It’s no secret, a regular bike provides a more intense workout. It activates more of your body, makes you sweat more and you’ll wake up with sore muscle the day after the hill climb.
It’s all you, no outside assistance added, and there are many people who are looking for this feeling. And that’s just fine, an E-Bike isn’t the best choice for someone that’s an avid cyclist already.
But which is healthier for you? This Swiss study pits regular bikers vs. e-bikers, and the result is pretty surprising. The health benefits are pretty similar in the end; in the big picture, regular vs. intensive exercise has similar benefits, it’s just important to exercise.
There’s one thing that the regular bike can never do. It can’t help people with disabilities, people that have trouble riding a regular bicycle due to knee injuries and overweight and obese people.
The E-Bike can serve a very diverse crowd – this means that some people that wouldn’t work out at all get a chance at a healthy life, and a fun and simple fitness program (just drive the E-Bike for ~3 hours a week and you’re doing great!).
The greatest advantage the regular bicycle has over the E-Bike is the price; an average bicycle costs about ten times less than an E-Bike and is much simpler and cheaper to maintain. And the regular bicycle enjoys being legal pretty much everywhere, while some countries and states legalize E-Bikes like mopeds and require driver’s licenses for them.
Is an E-Bike the ultimate solution to get moving?
Let us be the first to break that illusion: there are no quick fixes for fitness. Being fit and healthy a lifestyle change that you have to keep up to reap the benefits. Let’s not be hasty and think that the E-Bike is some sort of Holy Grail; it might not be valuable to someone who really likes swimming, except maybe as a vehicle he uses to get to the swimming pool. Most E-Bikes bought as quick fixes end up collecting dust instead of kicking up dust clouds on the road.
Be honest and carefully decide if an E-Bike is a good idea for you. If you’re a person that loves the outdoors, but finds walking hard, riding a bicycle or an E-Bike could be the solution you’re looking for. Also be mindful of your town’s infrastructure and traffic laws, and think about if you’d like to have an E-Bike in such a place. Having no bike lane is a big turn-off for most cyclists. Thankfully hills aren’t a problem for an E-Bike and you’ll have lots of fun easily beating them and enjoying the downhill ride.
Another thing that most people forget is their diet. No matter how much you run, lift or pedal, you’ll never outrun, outlift or outpedal a fork. Be careful with what you eat and you’ll shed those extra pounds easily, and the moderate physical activity you’ll get with the E-Bike is a perfect fit.
The last piece of advice is to not give up, even if you have a bad day, a bad week, or a bad month. It’s a long-term goal, and even if you fail sometimes, it’s the big picture that’s important.