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E-Bike powered by 500W Falco eMotor this morning on Walnut Creek lake, Sarpy County, Nebraska
E-Bike powered by 500W Falco eMotor this morning on Walnut Creek lake, Sarpy County, Nebraska

Yet Another University Study Finds Riding An E-Bike Is Good For Your Heart & Soul Too

One study after another demonstrates that riding an electric bicycle isn't "cheating." E-bike riders are actually getting a comparable level of exercise as those who ride conventional manual pedal bicycles. The latest findings come from a study of 32 obese individuals who volunteered to ride at least 3 times a week for one month. Here's what Swiss researchers discovered.

Effect of E-Bike Versus Bike Commuting on Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Overweight Adults: A 4-Week Randomized Pilot Study

To assess if active commuting with an electrically assisted bicycle (e-bike) during a 4-week period can induce increases in cardiorespiratory fitness measured as peak oxygen uptake (V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak) in untrained, overweight individuals, and if these changes are comparable with those induced by a conventional bicycle.

Four-week randomized pilot study.

Controlled laboratory.

Thirty-two volunteers (28 men) participated. Seventeen {median age 37 years [interquartile range (IQR) 34, 45], median body mass index [BMI] 29 kg/m [IQR 27, 31]} were randomized to the E-Bike group and 15 [median age 43 years (IQR 38, 45), median BMI 28 kg/m (IQR 26, 29)] to the Bike group.

Participants in both groups were instructed to use the bicycle allocated to them (e-bike or conventional bicycle) for an active commute to work in the Basel (Switzerland) area at a self-chosen speed on at least 3 days per week during the 4-week intervention period.

V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak was assessed before and after the intervention in an all-out exercise test on a bicycle ergometer.

V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak increased by an average of 3.6 mL/(kg·min) [SD 3.6 mL/(kg·min)] in the E-Bike group and by 2.2 mL/(kg·min) [SD 3.5 mL/(kg·min)] in the Bike group, with an adjusted difference between the 2 groups of 1.4 mL/(kg·min) [95% confidence interval, -1.4-4.1; P = 0.327].

E-bikes may have the potential to improve cardiorespiratory fitness similar to conventional bicycles despite the available power assist, as they enable higher biking speeds and greater elevation gain.


The above summary of the University of Basel (Switzerland) study has gotten some media attention since it was published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. It pretty much reaches the same conclusions found by similar studies before it dating back some 20 years, starting with Australia's Monash University. I even help facilitate a similar study here Nebraska by the University of Nebraska Omaha conducted by Taylor LaSalle, a graduate student in 2015.

As Science Daily summarizes:

”The role of the e-bike in promoting health and fitness is comparable to that of a conventional bicycle. In particular, overweight and untrained individuals can benefit from riding an e-bike.”

As the owner of four electric assist bicycles, collected over the last 20 years, I can attest to those findings. I do ride more and further, but generally only to run errands: visit the bank, get the occasional haircut, buy the odd small food item at the grocer. This past month, I started riding at least five miles a day. Over the last 23 days I've tracked my performance with the Strava app. I haven’t weighed myself or checked my pulse rate, but I have ridden some 120+ miles and gained some 1,178 accumulative feet climbing the hills around Walnut Creek lake near where I live. I am proud to say that is the most I have ridden in a single extended period in the last two decades. I should have started this long ago.

At 70 years of age, I am by no means a “poster boy” for the boomer generation, but I can say that I wouldn’t be out riding around a beautiful nature trail every morning about 7 if I had to do it on the manual bike. The e-bike makes it far more appealing and enjoyable.

Posted By: Bill Moore [31-Jul-2018]