Does E-Biking Count as Exercise?
Take a regular bike and add a little power. What do you get? An electric bike, or e-bike—and, according to several studies, a solid workout.
Counting the benefits
On an e-bike, a built-in motor adds extra oomph to your pedaling. This makes it easier to climb hills and ride longer distances in less time.
The electric assistance means your heart rate won’t rise as much as it would on a regular bike. However, recent studies have found you’ll still work hard enough to count toward your government-recommended 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week.
In fact, one research review crunched the numbers from 12 studies and found e-biking boosted heart rate, energy usage, and power output more than walking.
What’s more, people with e-bikes tend to spend more time riding than those with regular bikes, allowing the rewards to add up. Another plus, for the Earth: Replacing gasoline-powered car rides with e-bike trips reduces emissions, which helps the environment.
Making exercise easier
E-bikes hold special appeal for people who don’t already have a cycling habit. For one thing, they’re less demanding on muscles and joints. Many older adults or people with preexisting pain or illnesses can still ride.
Another big barrier to exercise is finding time. E-bikes make it easier to turn your commute or short trips to run errands into active pursuits. Even these brief bursts of biking can beget better health.
On an e-bike, you won’t get as sweaty. Tough conditions—like hills and wind—become far more manageable. In addition, e-bikes are just plain fun, according to participants who tried them out for a study.
Safe, smart riding
One downside of e-bikes is the price—they often cost more than regular bicycles. But some areas have bike-sharing systems that allow you to borrow electric models. In other cases, incentive programs can defray some of the expense.
Another challenge is traffic. Before you start pedaling, check state and local laws. In many cases, especially if your e-bike goes slower than 25 miles per hour, you can ride in the same lanes and trails as other cyclists.
Just as with regular bikes, follow traffic laws and trail etiquette. Keep in mind that because e-bikes are heavier, you may need more time to stop. And wear a helmet—accidents can happen on any type of bike, and research shows helmets decrease your risk for head and brain injuries.