If you’re new to the world of electric bikes, you may wonder if you can get the same kind of exercise as you would with a traditional bike. Most people think riding e-bikes is cheating and won’t help you get fit.
If you’ve ever asked the same thing, read on and find out how an e-bike can help you get fit — no matter your health condition and fitness level.
An Introduction to E-bikes
E-bikes come with a motor and pedal assist system to provide power each time a rider pedals. This feature reduces the amount of effort required to pedal a bike, making it easier to ride up hills or long distances. While you do all the work when riding a regular bike, electronic bikes assist you as you pedal, removing the strain from your body.
The Electric Bike Workout Mechanics
Understanding whether e-bikes are a great tool to help you reach your fitness goals requires understanding the difference between e-bikes and traditional bikes and the features e-bikes have to help you.
Traditional Bikes vs. E-bikes
Traditional bikes and electric bikes are both modes of transportation and means of exercise. Both types of bikes help you sweat it out as you engage your heart and muscles. But is the difference between riding an e-bike versus a traditional one that different when it comes to increasing heart rate and engaging muscles?
Heart Rate and Caloric Burn on E-Bikes
One of the biggest misconceptions is that e-bikes won’t give you the same benefits as traditional bikes. Research, however, has proven otherwise. A study from Brigham Young University shows that the average heart rate on an electronic mountain bike is 94% of the average heart rate of those riding traditional mountain bikes. While riding e-bikes requires less effort, you’ll still be able to have a good workout.
Having some assistance from the motor could also benefit you as a rider. If a hill is too steep, traditional bike riders may be forced to walk their bike up the trail. An e-bike’s motor assist, however, allows you to stay riding, keeping you working out for just a bit longer.
When you bike, you engage your core and leg muscles. Even with the pedal and motor assist, you still engage those muscles, especially if you set the assist at a lower level. If you want to build your muscle strength, you can always lower the assist level so you engage your core and leg muscles more.
Adjusting the Pedal Assist for Fitness
Although electric bikes make pedaling a lot easier, the number of calories you burn depends entirely on how you use your e-bike. An e-bike has many features, but you can tune them to match your fitness goals and needs.
Low Assist for More Workout Intensity
E-bikes have various levels of assist, and you can easily switch between them. You can always lower the pedal and motor assist for a more intense cardio workout. It will require more effort to pedal, leading your heart rate to go up, causing you to sweat more and burn more calories.
Higher Assist for Longer Distances or Hill Climbs
Similarly, if you are too exhausted to pedal or need to go a longer distance and would prefer to pace yourself, you can fix the setting to a higher assist so you don’t have to exert too much effort. If you have bad knees, weak hips, or are recovering from surgery, bumping up the assist can help you maintain your momentum while going up a hill or biking long distance.
However, using a higher-level assist requires an increased power demand on the battery. If you want to ride longer distances, you can use a low to moderate level of assist on flatter trails and only switch to a higher level of assist when you need to climb steep trails. The key to getting a good workout lies in finding the right balance between the different levels of assist and when to use them.
Benefits of E-bike Fitness
Catering to Diverse Fitness Levels
The best thing about electric bikes is that they cater to a wide range of people with various fitness levels.
Novices and the Elderly
E-bikes are good choices for novices who want to get into biking, as it helps them ease into a regular exercise habit. It is also a good option for older people with bad knees and backs, who may not be able to handle the strain of pedaling a traditional bike. With an e-bike, they’ll be able to get regular exercise that won’t be too strenuous.
Athletes and Fitness Enthusiasts
If you think athletes turn up their noses at electric bikes, think again. Several use e-bikes to train, recover from injury, or tackle longer distances. Others use it to go faster so they are no longer limited by physical ability. Whichever way you use your e-bike, you can use it as a great workout option without putting too much strain on your body.
Encouraging Consistent Exercise
Many people have found riding electric bikes fun and a way to challenge themselves to reach their fitness goals.
Less Intimidation, More Motivation
E-bikes also make it easier to tackle harder terrain that would otherwise seem intimidating, like steep hills and long distances.
Whether you are starting out on your biking journey or have been biking for some time already, an e-bike can help you stay motivated even when the road gets rough and the going gets tough. You can easily bump up the assist to help you stay seated even when ascending hilly terrains or to help you navigate the more uneven paths that would otherwise put a strain on your back and joints.
The Fun Factor and Exploring Longer Routes
Because e-bikes assist you so you don’t get tired out easily, you can now explore far-off places and pedal longer routes. And the best part about it is that you won’t get as tired as you would if you were to pedal a traditional bike.
Ernie Santoro says, “Since childhood, I have always ridden bikes, however, pedal-assisted biking has given me a new lease on life. I am now able to ride further, faster, and longer than I had in recent years.” Riders Melissa and Stephen Smith Wakefield, who ride at least 125 miles a week, say that riding an e-bike made them “feel like a kid again, healthy, happy and fit.”
Health Considerations with E-bikes
E-bikes help you exercise mindfully and are equipped to assist you, no matter your health and fitness level.
Cardiovascular Exercise with E-Bikes
You may not know it yet, but riding an e-bike can help you achieve and maintain good cardiovascular health.
Maintaining Heart Rate Zones
For those with heart conditions, riding an e-bike can help you stay within your desired heart rate zone. When you travel long distances or pedal uphill, your heart rate can spike, which can be dangerous for those with heart conditions. To maintain your heart zone, you can adjust your workload and motor and pedal assist so you don’t need to exert effort beyond what is required.
Some e-bikes (like the Greyp G6) come with displays to show your heart and can even adjust the level of assistance to suit it.
You can also maintain the rhythm and pace you want by listening to some upbeat music that can impact your energy and keep you pedaling.
Recovery Rides with E-bikes
E-bikes are also good for those who are recovering from surgeries or accidents. With the motor’s help, you can take up riding again at a comfortable pace that isn’t too strenuous for you.
Joint Health and Physical Limitations
For those with bad joint health and physical limitations, riding an electric bike can help you, too.
Reduced Strain on Knees and Hips
Electric bikes are gentler on the knees, hips, and back. Because of their motor assistance, e-bikes take off a lot of pressure and strain on the rider’s joints. You can also look for an e-bike with adjustable handlebars (like the Pace 500.2 E-bike) so you can bike comfortably. You can adjust the cycling intensity through the degree of assistance to help you exert less pressure when you pedal.
Suitable for Rehabilitation or Lessened Mobility
If you’ve been biking for a while but had to stop due to some injuries or are unable to bike as you used to, an electric bike can help you on your road through rehabilitation and recovery. With the e-bike’s pedal and motor assist, you can keep cycling even with a lower fitness level. Once you’ve built up stamina, you can start reducing the level of assist until you can bike the way you used to.
Achieving Your Fitness Goals with Electric Bicycles
E-bikes give you an effective and efficient way to achieve your fitness goals. You can exercise at a higher intensity and cover more miles than you would on a traditional bike. E-bikes also help you overcome barriers, such as physical limitations, distance, and time constraints that may otherwise prevent you from enjoying the benefits of fresh air and outdoor exercise. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or a beginner biker, e-bikes offer an enjoyable and effective way to get active..