The Health Benefits of Riding an Electric Bike

Research shows riding an e-bike is a workout!

Nov 28, 2020

(Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com)

Have you ever been pedaling your bike uphill, sweating, when an e-bike swiftly passes by, and the rider is smiling? Traditional bikers may not believe this, but e-bikers are actually traveling farther than pedal bikers, riding more often, and getting a solid workout.

A recent study from Oslo, Norway called “Do people who buy e-bikes cycle more?” confirms this, causing hardcore cyclists to slow down and scratch their helmets! Researchers studied both e-bike riders both before and after purchasing a bike, as well as standard pedal bikers over a period of six months. They then compared usage of the bike and distance traveled.

The e-bikes used pedelec bikes. These pedal electric bikes go up to 15 miles per hour and do not require licensing in the EU. Researchers found that new e-bike owners were more active, increasing their distance by 49 percent, while there was no change in distance traveled in the standard pedal biking group. E-bike owners also started using cars and public transportation less, leading researchers to conclude that owning an e-bike leads to significant lifestyle changes.

Aside from traveling farther, owning an e-bike improves health. A study published in Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives followed 10,000 adults in seven countries across Europe. They compared the amount of energy and time spent e-biking (on a pedelec), traditional cycling, walking, and driving. The results showed that e-bikes won in the category of total exercise and distance traveled.

Electric bikes get people moving, but—cyclists hold onto those handlebars tightly—e-biking is also a cardiovascular activity, according to a study from Brigham Young University. The researchers compared 33 riders aged 18 through 65 on a rolling six-mile course in Utah. Some rode mountain bikes and others rode electric mountain bikes. When comparing their heart rates, they found that the e-riders felt almost as much exertion as did the cyclists. They concluded that yes, e-biking is a form of aerobic exercise!

An interesting takeaway is that even though the e-bikers were exerting themselves, it did not feel strenuous. This is great news for people who are “allergic” to exercise! Owning an e-bike is also an attractive option for middle-aged people and retirees.

As  e-biking research continues over the years, studies may reveal how the continuous use of electric bikes contributes to a healthier aging population and a cleaner world. So when you are out on your e-bike and pass a breathless cyclist, give a grin.  

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NICOLE NATHAN BEM, CONTRIBUTOR
Nicole is an editor, blogger and author who has recently left her urban life in order to be more connected with nature. In her spare time, she’s outdoors hiking in the forest, mountain biking or tending to her new permaculture garden.