Are Ebikes Good for Exercise? Discover the Surprising Fitness Benefits & More!

E-bikes have swept across Europe. Now bicycles with battery-powered assist are taking off in the United States. However, some cyclists have sneered at their introduction, claiming it isn’t real exercise. These elitist naysayers might have a point if e-bikes were always ridden full throttle, with no pedaling. But they are not. Thus, the doubters might be surprised at what science has discovered.

E-bikes are good for exercise. Science has shown that e-bike riders burn calories and get a workout using battery-powered pedal assist, not full throttle. E-bikes are also more accessible, allowing more people to cycle who otherwise could not, such as those with Parkinson’s or MS.

In 2015 a British ad campaign featured a middle-aged plus-sized woman on a bicycle. “I’m slow,” the advert began, “but I’m lapping everyone on the couch.” It’s a sentiment routinely overlooked in the e-bike debate. Yes, she’s a far cry from Jonas Vingegaard Rasmussen, the 2022 Tour de France winner. Nor is anyone going to argue who is in better shape. But exercise isn’t only for the ultra-fit.

Do You Burn Calories On Electric Bikes?

According to a 2021 study, e-bike users burned 344-422 calories per hour. The figure is less than riding a traditional bike, where a person burns an average of 505 calories.

However, a study featured in a 2022 edition of Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives found that e-bike users cycle longer than those using traditional cyclists. Consequently, an e-bike user may burn as many or more calories per week as a conventional cyclist.

In addition, a 2016 study found that e-bikes get people moving who otherwise would be sedentary. For instance, a 2018 study showed that because e-bikes are more fun, people will use them for errands and commuting when they otherwise would have used sedentary means of transport, which uses very few calories.

Can You Lose Weight With An Electric Bike?

E-bikes can help you lose weight if combined with an effective and healthy eating plan. While e-bikes do not burn as many calories as using regular bikes, they are often more fun. Thus, people are more likely to use them, which benefits weight loss goals.

In addition, e-bikes are more accessible for older people, those living in hilly areas, or have physical challenges from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s, lupus, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or recovering from a stroke.

Does Riding An Electric Bike Build Muscle?

A 2022 study in Australia found overweight people built muscle when riding an e-bike. In addition, participants felt mentally healthier, had increased energy levels, and lost weight.

E-bikes build muscle through the same mechanics as a traditional bike: as a rider pedals, the quads, hamstrings, and glutes are used. Staying upright and steering also stimulates the abs, biceps, and triceps. The latter is even more challenging than a regular bike, as e-bikes are heavier.

To provide the best results when using an e-bike, the rider must reduce the amount of battery-powered assistance as they gain strength and fitness. Thus, they continue to challenge their body as their fitness increases.

Are Electric Bikes Better For Knees?

E-bikes put less strain on joints, making them better for knees. They have been compared with elliptical trainers and swimming, two other activities that place little to no stress on joints. But the additional advantage is that e-bikes can be used outdoors for commuting to work, running errands, or having fun on the trails.

However, setup for an e-bike is as crucial as it is with a regular bike. In addition, the rider’s positioning will impact overall structural health, including the strain in the back and knees. Thus, when looking for an e-bike, finding one that puts your body in the optimal posture for your needs is essential.

E-bikes with full throttle can benefit those recovering from an injury or with chronic knee problems. The additional setting allows people to bicycle in intervals and take breaks when needed without stopping. It also reduces the chances of being stranded should the rider have overdone it and be far from home.

Are Electric Bikes Good For Chronic Illnesses And Disabled?

Electric bikes have been highly beneficial for some people with chronic illnesses or disabilities. While they are not accessible for all, they can be excellent for the early stages of Parkinson’s or people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, chronic fatigue, certain heart issues, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. In the past, many of these riders were told by physiotherapists to use stationary bikes or swim.

While stationary bikes and swimming are excellent forms of exercise, they can be socially isolating. Stationary bikes are used indoors, often in a person’s home, and swimming with your head in the water makes it difficult to converse. Having an e-bike allows people to take part in group outings with family and friends that they used to be excluded from or watch from afar.

Finding time to use a stationary bike is also more challenging, as space has to be carved out rather than multitasking. In contrast, an e-bike allows a person to exercise while commuting to work, running errands, or meeting with friends. Thus, the activity uses time that would have been spent anyway, but in a healthier manner.

Lastly, e-bikes are often more fun than stationary bikes. Fun is essential to motivate people who already live with chronic pain. If an activity is tedious, finding the will to keep up with their exercise regime is tricky. But if the activity is fun, it is easier for a person to find the motivation to move.

Are Electric Bikes Good For Mental Health?

E-bikes are good for mental health because they are fun and are a form of outdoor exercise. While there have been many studies on the subject in the past, the CoVid lockdowns provided new evidence that being outdoors improves mental health. Even indoor social activity groups do not offer the same mental health boost that can be obtained when exercising outdoors in green spaces.

In addition, a 2019 study showed that older e-bike riders benefit cognitively. Furthermore, the increase in cognitive function had a knock-on effect of boosting people’s moods.

Conclusion

E-bikes are an excellent form of exercise. While it does not burn as many calories per hour as riding a traditional bike, e-bikes are more fun and offer greater accessibility. Thus, e-bikes are used more, meaning people are more active outdoors. Therefore, e-bikes have been found to benefit mental and physical health, including weight management.

Author

  • Miles Baxter

    Miles Baxter is an engineer with a longstanding love for bicycles, sparked by winning a mountain bike in a childhood lottery. Balancing a keen interest in mechanics with the thrill of biking, his career is a testament to the art of turning wheels and gears into adventures.

    Baxter Miles