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Do e-bikes really provide an exercise? Here's what BYU researchers have to say



PROVO – For many adults, the phrase "as easy as riding a bike" may sound like a misnomer.

Because let's face it – exercise is not fun for everyone.

But researchers at Brigham Young University have found in a recent study that electric mountain bikes provide almost as much of an exercise as traditional bikes, while not making the rider feel as if they just performed a difficult workout.

Results can help many find a new way to recreate.

The idea for the study, published recently in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, occurred at three BYU public health professors, all avid mountain bikers, as they took students on study abroad trips to Europe over the last few years, said Cougar Hall, the study's lead author.

There, the popularity of e-bikes skyrocketed, Hall said.

"We thought, & # 39; We don't often see them back home. & # 39; But we noticed, our students would tell us, & # 39; Man, I hate riding. on a bike home because it is very difficult. But these are just easy enough that I think I will ride my bike often, & # 39; "recalled Hall.

The professors wanted to know if the electric bikes are really easy for people, and if they still provide a decent workout.

So they got four e-mountain bikes, equipped with 33 experienced bikers with monitor heart rate, they were sent on a 6 mile track on a traditional mountain bike, and then the same loop on an e-bike.

They found that e-bike trips put participants at a disadvantage. at "moderate to vigorous" heart rate, on average 9.9 heartbeats so only every minute less than a traditional bike.

"It's pretty cool, they're actually doing the exercise we hope they get," Hall said.

While riding e-bikes, participants' heart rates were in what experts called the "vigorous training zone," strengthening the heart, he said.

Those results may open new paths to many understandings that work as a pain.

A significant portion of the population faced other obstacles to physical activity, such as lack of walking paths, poor air quality and cold weather. But one of the biggest obstacles for many is "that they find it difficult," Hall said.

"And we often have these negative feelings, from being pushed so much when we were young, maybe. Physical activity may have been related to sports competition when you were young. Or we have to run the mile eight minutes to get an 'A' & # 39;, and we didn't do that, so we got hurt and we told ourselves we didn't want to run in. There were all kinds of things that were really obstacles to physical activity for the whole population, ”he explained.

After participants rode the course on e-bikes, they reported that it did not feel like a solid workout.

"If we get people on e-bikes, they might think, 'It's not that difficult. It's something I can do, and something I can maintain and stick to,' ; ”Says Hall, adding that he sees e-bikes as a possible catalyst to help people move more generally and overcome the barriers of perceived discomfort.

" We really suffer from we call it lifestyle disorders. Cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes. These are all diseases that are directly related to our lifestyle. So to get more people moving – and to find a healthy outlet for the stress we feel at work and our families – is important. And so I only see e-bikes as an additional tool, an additional opportunity to help people who are otherwise fairly or dissatisfied with physical activity. ”

Although Hall provided participants with experienced bikers, he said the results still show that they were given e-bikes a good – albeit easier – workout, and show that they can especially benefit those with older lives, older people and those who recover from injuries.

"It may give them the confidence they need to get back on track and engage in a really, really fun sport," the professor explained.

The study was particularly suitable for Utah because of the many popular beautiful bicycle railways.

Since the study, researchers have found that not everyone in the biking community is excited about electric mountain bikes. Some are resistant and do not want to see many people in the lanes, causing possible erosion.

"And in my opinion, there is a sense that, when it comes to mountain biking, like walking and skiing and other things, there is a natural progression. You've developed both your cardiovascular and endurance base , but you also build your skill set. So this is an activity that many users feel is taking place, that you earn the ability by putting too much time on the bike to get to the tracks. "

Knowing of the prevailing attitude, the researchers asked participants some questions about their opinions on e-bikes. Of them, 61% said they had a favorable opinion of e-bikes after riding them.

This is the type of activity one should try before making a decision, Hall said. He said he rode both and enjoyed both.

Hall's favorite use of e-bikes was when he rode with his 82-year-old father, who was still active but unable to ride a traditional mountain bike because it was too difficult for his feet to climb hills.

"Help is enough to get him over and over again in certain places that he feels are very difficult in his current age," Hall explained.

While e-bikes remain rare in Utah, Hall sees a time when more and more people will be using them as technologies improve and become more affordable. Today, they range in price from about $ 1,000 to, at the higher end, several thousand dollars.

Next, the researchers wanted to copy the study to an older group and people with a healthier lifestyle. Those studies are awaiting approval from the university, Hall said.


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