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The Exercise Power of E-Bikes

fitness health

The Exercise Power of E-Bikes

Get a Workout on an Easier Ride

by Sandra Yeyati

The familiar adage, “No pain, no gain,” doesn’t really apply to e-bikes. Although a pedal-assist electric bicycle is zippier and easier to ride than a conventional model, researchers are finding that as long as we’re pedaling, we’re still getting our heart pumping, building stamina and experiencing some of that cardio magic. That’s good news for those of us that like to work smarter, not harder.

What’s more, that battery-enabled oomph supplies riders with the enjoyment, motivation and self-confidence to venture out more frequently and for longer periods of time, give hills and inclines a try and even pedal to work for an active, eco-friendly commute. It’s a win-win-win.

In 2018, researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU), in Provo, Utah, sought to quantify just how good a workout was possible on an e-bike, and they discovered that the average heart rate was only 6.21 beats per minute lower than on a conventional cycle.

“The e-bike and conventional bike averages both fell within that 50 to 70 percent maximum-heart rate threshold which is indicative of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity, so there seems to be a similar amount of benefit for heart health when riding an e-bike, despite the fact that the perceived exertion was significantly lower than on a conventional bike,” says Taylor Hoj, lead author of the study published in the journal JMIR Public Health and Surveillance.

The college-aged men and women that participated in the study rode the same 10-mile trail on each type of bike, so it was easy to compare how much faster the e-bikes were. Cyclists averaged 12 miles per hour (mph) on the conventional bike and 16 mph on the e-bike, reaching top speeds of 22 mph and 27 mph, respectively.

On average, the same route took 54 minutes to complete on the conventional bike and only 39 minutes on the e-bike—a 30 to 40 percent time savings. For people considering using an e-bike to commute to work, that reduction might make it easier to give it a shot.

Using questionnaires given before and after each ride, the BYU researchers found, “In general, participants agreed that they could ride an e-bike on most days, in the cold, when they were tired or dressed in formal attire, while carrying groceries or books, or on hilly terrain,” says Hoj, a health equity epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health and adjunct faculty member at the BYU College of Life Sciences.

Notably absent from the study were e-bikes with throttles, which with a twist of the handle or the push of a button, provide a boost even when the rider isn’t pedaling. These bikes would probably not provide the same level of exercise benefits.

In 2019, the same BYU researchers conducted a similar study with experienced mountain bikers, published in the JMIR Formative Research Journal. “Our results in that study supported the idea that using a pedal-assist electric mountain bike (EMTB) retained the cardiovascular benefit and that the participants overwhelmingly perceived the potential of EMTB use to be positive,” Hoj says. “Some of them said an EMTB could help get them out on the trails more or perhaps get them to ride longer and go further, and also would allow older, injured, disabled or less-fit riders to enjoy mountain biking on dirt trails, whereas maybe their age, injuries or fitness levels limited their capability on a conventional mountain bike.”

According to Hoj, e-bikes offer a great set of benefits for fitness buffs. “Even if you’re a very serious athlete and in training programs, there are days where maybe you’re recovering from a more intense ride and your muscles are really sore, but you still want to continue to train your heart and that aerobic side of things, and an e-bike could be a great use for a more laid back aerobic day while the legs are recovering,” he says. “And if someone is wanting to get into mountain biking but doesn’t feel like they have the fitness to get there or doesn’t know how to start, that pedal assist could remove that initial barrier.”

Ultimately, the decision to buy an e-bike—good ones start at $1,000—may come down to emotional considerations. “They’re a lot of fun to ride,” Hoj says.

Sandra Yeyati, J.D., a professional writer and editor, can be reached at SandraYeyati@gmail.com.

Foods to consume for achieving hormone balance

  • Almonds and hazelnuts
  • Arugula
  • Cold-water, deep-sea fish: salmon, tuna, herring, halibut, mackerel, sardines
  • Garlic
  • Green tea
  • Organic wheat germ
  • Radish
  • Reishi mushrooms
  • Turnips
  • Vitamin E, vitamin B complex, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids
  • Watercress

Strategies to Stave Off Fibroids

from hormone expert and author Alisa Vitti:
Eat to balance estrogen. Prioritize foods that help modulate and balance estrogen, like flax seeds, beans and whole grains. Pears and apples are liver-supporting foods that contain lots of fiber, along with a flavonoid named phloretin, which impairs tumor growth. Be mindful of alcohol and caffeine consumption. Just a couple of glasses of wine significantly raises estrogen levels. Coffee suppresses ovulation, thereby suppressing production of progesterone and increasing the likelihood of estrogen dominance. Organic, unprocessed soy in the form of tempeh and miso can be beneficial, with an anti-estrogenic effect on the uterus.

Balance the microbiome. The microbiome contains a colony of bacteria that helps metabolize estrogen. When the good and bad bugs in the microbiome are out of balance, the estrobolome can’t do its job efficiently, and estrogen builds up. Another key to building and maintaining a healthy microbiome is supplementing with a high-quality probiotic.

Cut out the chemicals. Many chemical-free options are less expensive than conventional products, especially when bought in bulk. Use baking soda and vinegar to clean around the house. Refrain from treating the lawn with chemicals. Replace plastic food storage containers with glass and stainless steel options which last a lifetime and don’t leach harmful agents into comestibles. Opt for a shower curtain made of less-toxic materials than plastic.

From acupuncturist Susannah Neal:
Fibroids that are smaller than two centimeters will respond more quickly to treatment and may only require the use of one or two modalities, such as monthly, professional, abdominal massage; self-care massage at home; and herbal medicine prescribed by a licensed herbalist for three months. Larger, more chronic and severe fibroids may require multiple modalities and a longer course of treatment in addition to these measures, including weekly acupuncture sessions and dietary recommendations. Three to six months of treatment may be required. Natural medicine understands and respects that each person’s ability and time required to heal is complex and must be individualized.

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