Are Electric Bikes Good for Fitness? Here’s What We Discovered

With all the mechanics involved ( Motor + battery ) pedaling an electric bike don’t feel like you are putting much effort. While this can be a good thing for most cyclists, it causes some serious concerns on whether electric bikes are as good as conventional bikes for fitness.

Cycling is the most healthy form of workout anyone can do with greater returns for minimal risks involved. Being one of the cardiovascular exercises you ripe the benefits like gaining stronger muscles and stronger bones, lower risks of heart attack, and weight loss.

For some time there has been debate among the scientific community and physical trainers as to whether or not an electric bike, or e-bike, can reap the same benefits as a conventional bike and to what degree.

We’re here to prove that an e-bike can help you lose weight and increase your fitness level the same way traditional bikes can, if not more.

That too in simplest terms with facts and data to prove and sometimes real-life examples; how many had succeeded shedding weight all with using electric bikes.

Is It Cheating?

Electric cycles have wrongfully gotten the reputation of cheating. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, for a long time, I believe in the same notion until I got my first electric mountain bike.

When it comes to your health, using an e-bike has virtually the same benefits as a conventional bike.

Even if your pedal assist is engaged, you’re still using your core by balancing to keep the bike vertical while getting constant exercise through pedaling.

The bike doesn’t do everything for you. You still have to use physical exertion to keep the bike moving. Doing so causes you to burn calories, and in turn, improve health and melt fat.

In general, you burn 20-25% fewer calories with electric bikes, but that is not enough to affect your fitness goals. Just because you burn 20% fewer calories does not mean it’s ain’t healthier.

Electric Bikes For Fitness – What Studies Show

Multiple studies have gotten conducted regarding electric bikes and how they compare to conventional bikes when it comes to your health, fitness, and weight loss. Let’s take a look at some of the results.

NITC report on electric bikes and its effect on American society
Source: NITC Report

Boulder, Colorado Study

A month-long study conducted in Boulder, Colorado, in 2016 showed that pedelecs improved the participants’ cardiometabolic risk factors within a 4-week time frame.

The study examined 20 sedentary individuals and monitored their blood lipid profile, mean arterial blood pressure, and oral glucose tolerance test.

The test-takers significantly improved their OGTT and power output while meeting the recommended physical activity level. Interviews with the participants showed that they rode the e-bikes more than required because it was so enjoyable.

That means it helped people who didn’t normally exercise to become more physically active. They discovered it was a fun way to get their workout in without it feeling like work.

Brigham Young University Study

Because of the number of people questioning how you can exercise while using a bike that has a motor, Brigham Young University decided to put it to the test. They embarked on a study in an attempt to belay the common misconceptions surrounding electronic bikes and their effect on physical fitness.

The BYU researchers conducted their study that consisted of 33 individuals, the majority of whom were men, ranging in age from 18 to 65.

Participants were instructed to ride both conventional and e-bikes with pedal assistance through a 6 Mile course in Utah. The data on heart rates were then compared between the two different cycles.

The results, which were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, proved that the physical exertion required while using an electric bike was nearly the same as that of a traditional cycle.

Regardless of which bike the participant was using at the time, their heart rate was in the vigorous-intensity zone. When utilizing the e-bike, the average heart rate was 93.6% of what was achieved with a traditional bike.

The Brigham Young University study shows that pedelecs are a viable cardiovascular or aerobic exercise regardless of your fitness level.

Even well-seasoned cyclists and mountain bikers can get a successful workout from an e-bike.

National Institute For Transportation And Communities Study that suggest electric bikes good for fitness.
Source: NITC Report

National Institute For Transportation And Communities Study

The NITC report on a survey conducted on 1796 bicycle users indicates the impact of electric bikes and its recent growth in use among American society.

According to the report, most cyclist prefers to switch to electric bikes to reduce physical excretion, ride on challenging topography, and replacing car trips.

All that for an easier, quicker, and cost-effective commute option such as an electric bike that saves you a ton on operational costs like gas, repairs, insurance, licensing, and registration.

In fact about 34% of American cyclist prefer E-bikes as their go method of transportation. While a 44.5% believe they can do more exercise cycling on an E-bike.

Now based on the same report the total number of daily commuters or bike riders who ride regularly soared from 55% to 91% once they all switched to an e-bike.

The survey also revealed that e-bikes are changing the way you ride your bicycle. Now you ride more often, to a longer distance, choosing different paths that pass more often through hills and heavy traffic.

In general the report concludes that the electric bikes had made it for more people to ride bicycles.

Read Also: What Are Advantages And Disadvantages of Electric Bikes?

Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Exercise

Many of the subjects from the studies stated that they did not feel they got a workout while using a pedelec. However, their fitness tracking devices and their heart rates proved that they actually got vigorous exercise.

The BYU data shows that electric bikes can be used to help avid cyclists to sedentary individuals attain their fitness goals without it feeling like work.

A workout like that could be life-changing in terms of getting people out of couch potato mode and into a more physically active lifestyle.

Traditional bikes while makes efficient use of the effort you exert to get them moving, there’s no denying that a long bike ride can leave you sweaty, aching, and exhausted. For the elderly or physically infirm, even a short ride can be out of the question.

E-bikes address this in two ways: pedal assist and throttle assist. E-bikes with pedal assist, known as pedelecs, add power to your pedaling.

When you push with your feet, a motor engages, adding its power to yours. It, therefore, requires significantly less effort and energy on your part to get moving.

This is especially helpful on inclines, eliminating the strained climb, and the need to actually walk your bike up a hill. Thus making it a sound choice for people who may have fitness or health concerns.

Weight Loss Success

If you’re still not convinced that an e-bike can help you stay in shape, lose weight, and keep you physically active, here’s one of our favorite success stories that show it can.

Rhonda Martin

Rhonda Martin was morbidly obese, weighing in at 457 pounds at age 40. After exhausting every diet she came across, she saw electric bikes at an expo and thought, why not?

She hopped on one and couldn’t believe the freedom she felt. Seeing her joy, her husband, Chuck, decided to try one as well. They were both hooked. They bought two right then.

They began biking together regularly, starting out at 30 minutes every weekend and working their way up. After a year, Rhonda was able to make the 28 miles round trip to and from work every day. Within five years of purchasing her e-bike, Rhonda lost 270 lbs.

Even after Chuck suffered a stroke and could no longer use a two-wheeled bike of any type, they were still able to ride and stay physically active together with his three-wheeled electric trike.

Jon Treffert

Jon Treffert was 60 years old when he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. At 270 lbs, with a BMI of 36.6, he was also suffering from obesity.

After receiving this alarming news, he attempted to turn things around by dieting alone. He lost some pounds, but remained overweight, and his diabetes was not impacted at all.

He knew he needed to change course, and it was then that he recalled his love of cycling in his youth. But, it had been over 30 years since he had ridden a bike. In his own words, he was an “overweight, old man with a bad back.” Could he pick up biking again, in his condition?

With an e-bike, the answer was a resounding yes. The pedal assist lowered the bar of reentry to meet him where he was, and came in handy for navigating the steep hills of his home in Tennessee.

After 5 months, he had logged 1000 miles and dropped 30 lbs — but, he wasn’t done yet.

He decided to enter the Great Cycle Challenge, raising money for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund by riding 700 miles in a single month. Touched by his enthusiasm, his wife joined in. They purchased new e-bikes together, and became a riding pair.

After 18 months, not only had Treffert dropped 102 lbs, he had literally ridden his Type 2 diabetes into remission. He and his wife continue to be avid riders and evangelists for the transformative health benefits offered by electric bikes.

3 Great E-bikes For Different Types of Rides

eAhora Mountain E-Bike

This bike is the beast with 350W powerful motor. An all-around amazing bike that looks good!

Macwheel Powerful Commuter

So joyful! It gives you the power to adventure, commute quicker and ride with a big smile on face.

Speedrid Sunshine Budget E-Bike

Your budget electric bike. These are comfortable to ride, equally supportive and powerful.

How to Use an Electric Bike to Get Fit

Use It To Ride Long Distances

Electric bikes enable you to ride farther than you could on a regular bike, allowing you to potentially more than double your maximum distance.

Don’t think that the decrease in effort required translates into an exact decrease in physical benefit. Even riding with pedal assist, e-bikers burn just 20% less calories per hour than non-electric riders.

That means an increase in distance of only 20% puts your fitness gains on par with traditional cyclists — an amount you can easily exceed.

This is a good thing for burning fat in particular, as longer rides deplete your body’s ready supply of quick energy, and draw on your fat stores to keep you going.

Sustained riding over longer periods works your cardiovascular and respiratory systems as well, improving your oxygen intake and blood flow. And, you’ll definitely feel the burn in your core and leg muscles.

Use electric bikes For Transportation to loose weight

Use It For Transportation – Replacing Driving With Cycling

Since e-bikes allow you to easily ride long distances, you should take advantage of that whenever you can. Instead of sitting down and passively riding in a car or on the bus, hop on your bike instead.

One hour of physical activity a day is enough to maintain your health. You can easily achieve, and surpass, this mark when biking becomes your primary mode of transportation.

Need to run errands? Your e-bike can handle it. Going shopping? Don’t hesitate to pedal your way to the market. Whereas ferrying heavy shopping bags up a steep path home might be unfeasible for a traditional bike, e-bikes are made for such tasks.

And, don’t forget the number one reason we spend most of our time on the road: the work commute. Commuting to and from work on a bike allows you to start each day with an energetic workout in the fresh air.

Compare that to sitting in a car at a standstill during rush hour, breathing a fog of exhaust fumes. Riding your e-bike is clearly the healthier choice.

Tackle Tough Terrain To maximize Workout

Traveling uphill is the bane of many cyclist’s existence, and defeats many would-be riders before they even climb onto the seat. But, there’s no need to fear the slopes when you ride your e-bike.

Pedal assist can handle the bulk of a climb, allowing you to continue your ride uninterrupted, maximizing your gains. That’s not to suggest there is no increased exertion on your part, but hills will no longer relegate you to finishing your trip on foot.

Electric bikes turn steep grades into challenges you can look forward to, and open up a wide range of paths you would not have considered. Get out and explore your expanded horizons, and ride to greater fitness.

Electric Bikes Good for fitness
Image Credit: Ted Eytan | License: CC BY-SA 2.0

Use Your Electric Assistance Wisely For Maximum Results

Hills aren’t the only way to create more challenging rides. On an e-bike, you control the level of effort with the turn of a dial.

As your physique improves, you might no longer feel the burn when the pedal assist is set to turbo mode. Dial it back to sport or eco mode to customize your workout.

You don’t have to settle on any single setting while riding. When pedaling downhill you might opt for the least assistance, then bump that up for a difficult climb.

The beauty of e-bikes is that they meet you where you are. If you are a new rider, or you have health restrictions, the pedal assist can ease you into cycling with minimal risk of injury.

Meanwhile, expert cyclists can take advantage of the help in a targeted fashion, using it to surpass their longest distances and to train in their weak areas. With electric bikes, there’s no reason not to ride.

Use Your Own Power + Assist for Thrilling Speed

The heart-pumping excitement of cycling at high speeds never gets old. It’s a large part of what makes riding a bike so fun.

With an e-bike, your ability to have this experience is never in doubt. You may not have the experience or conditioning of a pro, but the helpful motor will give you the boost you need to keep up with one.

Even difficult terrain won’t break your cadence. Rides on a traditional bike will slow to a crawl the moment you encounter a hill. You may even have to dismount and trudge up on foot.

With pedal assist, electric bikes allow you to maintain enjoyable speeds, whether you’re climbing steep grades, or need to keep up with other riders in a group.

The confidence that nothing can stop you, paired with the anticipation of exhilarating speed, will have you eager to hop back in the saddle and ride. And, the more you ride, the better you will feel.

Professional Opinion – Are Electric Bikes Good

Professional trainers like Alan Milway agree that electric bikes are for every fitness level and have been a game-changer for those with a more sedentary lifestyle.

Pedelecs are a great tool to use toward your fitness and weight-loss goals, whether you’re a pro-cycler, cycling enthusiast, beginner, or someone with a physical limitation.

The consensus is that “…e-bike riding actually means an increase in fitness rather than a decrease.”

Our Conclusion

You’re not being lazy, cheating, or taking the easy way out by using an e-bike. In fact, many people ride twice as often or for greater distances because an e-bike doesn’t feel like exercise. That means you’re actually getting more exercise, causing a higher increase in physical health.

Think about it like this:

More frequent use + longer rides + nearly the same heart rate = Better physical health and higher weight loss.

Don’t let common misconceptions fool you. A pedelec does not decrease your physical activity or cause complacency. An electric cycle is fitness equipment that works with you to reach your goals, not against.

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