Electric bikes have health benefits and are gaining popularity in the United States

“E-Bikes” are gaining popularity in the United States. This is partly because so-called “assist bikes” can be a good option for people who may not have the strength or stamina to ride a regular bike. But do they bring physical benefits to cyclists? Dr Helaine Alessio say yes. She is a professor and president of the Department of Kinesiology, Nutrition and Health at the University of Miami at Oxford. Dr. Alessio recently published a academic document on the health effects of riding an e-bike on the body. WYSO spoke with her.

What motivated you to investigate the potential health benefits of e-bikes?

What motivated me was the growing popularity of e-bikes in the United States. It’s very, very popular in Europe. It is just beginning to gain popularity in the United States. “

“Also, I was lucky enough to drive one, and I felt like even though there was some assist I was doing in the effort, and that was unlike other people who thought riding an e-bike was cheating. People say: If you ride an e-bike, it’s like cheating and you get no fitness or health benefit from it. So I thought , well, we have the equipment in our kinesiology, nutrition and health department that can measure effort and intensity while you’re riding a bike, whether it’s a regular bike or an e-bike. which motivated me. I was just curious to see if it was actually cheating or if you could get any health benefit from cycling.”

Outline support for those of us like me who have never ridden an e-bike before. I kind of always thought that with an e-bike, you just get on and push a button and off you go…

Well, it’s a scooter. With an e-bike, you have to pedal to get assistance. There’s a motor that’s designed to start when you pedal.”

“It will give a certain level of power depending on whether you are on the assist the first levelwhere he will give you some, level two supporta little bit more, assist level threeeven more, or level four supportyou fly.”

“You pedal, but as you pedal it’s almost like someone behind you is pushing. Instead of going, let’s say ten miles an hour, which is a normal speed for you on a bicycle, the effort you put in that same effort will get you over 14 miles per hour, or about a 40% increase in speed.”

So what did you find in your research?

We found that when we compared the effort on a regular bike with the effort on an e-bike, the effort on a regular bike was definitely greater – you burn more calories, your oxygen consumption is higher.

“But what we found was the effort you put in, which we measured with calories burned, oxygen consumption and your heart rate – these parameters, which we call cardiometabolic, are increased with cycling. electric at a level that meets the minimum criteria that you should be training for health-related fitness.”

So for those who think that riding a regular bike might be a bit too strenuous, do you think an electric bike would be a good option to get them to a certain calorie burn or recommended metabolic rate for exercise?

“Absolutely! Some people might be intimidated to ride a regular bike because maybe their house is on top of a hill, or maybe where they’re going they know they’re going. meet a hill, or if it’s more than a mile. With an e-bike, these types of obstacles are eliminated, or perhaps not eliminated, but significantly diminished, so you feel the confidence that “I can climb this hill with assistance”.

“If you’ve never ridden an e-bike, go to your local bike shop and maybe just ask for a chance to try one out and see what it’s all about. I think you might be pleasantly surprised that if you’re not already active, this might just be what you need to jumpstart a more active lifestyle.”

Just a note: Electric bikes are not cheap; quality e-bikes start at just under $1000 and go up from there. They are available at most bike shops.

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Richard V. Johnson