While highly frowned upon when snuck into the Tour de France (are you kidding me?!), electric bikes can be a very useful piece of equipment to zip around town. These are bicycles that are equipped with electrical assistance, which is activated only when the rider is actively pedalling. You may wonder – does using these bikes still count as exercise? A recent study tells us – yes!
The study, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, enrolled 20 people who led sedentary lifestyles, and evaluated several measures of health after 4 weeks of using the electrically assisted bike for at least 40 minutes, three days per week.
They found that using the ‘pedelec’ bikes provided a moderate level of exertion, similar to walking (4.9 METs on average). After just 4 weeks, there was an improvement in their glucose tolerance, and an increase in their power output and VO2max (a measure of maximal aerobic capacity). Participants also found the bikes to be fun, to the point where over half of participants ended up cycling over 50% more than the required amount.
So, while using a regular bicycle would provide more exercise, a pedelec bike is a great option for people who have knee problems, struggle to get uphill on a bike, or if you want to get further in a day than you otherwise would on a regular bike. (We used them on a trip Kyoto last year so we could make it to all the far flung temples we wanted to see – fantastic!) Pedelecs remove the potential deterrents of cycling such as longer distances or hills, and they can be incorporated into daily life as a means of transport when the weather/climate permits (rather than having to find specific extra time in the day to exercise).
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