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Do e-bikes really give you a workout? Here's what BYU researchers say

PROVO – For many adults, the phrase "as easy as cycling" may sound wrong.

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

But researchers at Brigham Young University found in a recent study that electric mountain bikes provide almost as much training as traditional bikes, while not creating the rider's feeling as if they had just done a difficult workout.

The results can help many people find a new way to recreate.

The idea for the study, recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, appeared among three public health educators at BYU, all avid mountain bikers, as they took students on a study trip abroad in Europe in the last few years, he said Cougar Hall, lead author of the study.

The popularity of e-bikes has skyrocketed there, Hall said.

"We thought, 'We don't see each other very often at home. "But we noticed that our students would tell us, 'Man, I hate to ride a bike at home because it's so difficult. But these are easy enough that I think I would ride my bike more often, ”Hall recalled.

Professors wanted to find out if electric bikes are really easier for people and still provide a decent workout.

So they got four e-mountain bikes, equipped 33 experienced motorcyclists with heart rate monitors, sent them to a 6-kilometer trail on a traditional mountain bike, and then on the same e-bike cycle.

They found that electronic bicycle trips placed participants in the "moderate to vigorous" heart rate zone, with an average of only 9.9 pulses per minute lower than a traditional motor.

"It was pretty cool, actually they got the exercise we were hoping to get," Hall said.

While riding e-bikes, the participants' heart rate was in what experts call a "vigorous workout zone" that strengthens the heart, he said.

These results may open new avenues for many who view work as painful.

Much of the population is confronted with various barriers to physical activity, such as lack of footpaths, poor air quality and cold weather. But one of the biggest barriers for many is "seeing it as difficult," according to Hall.

"And we often have these really negative feelings, from being pushed out too much when we were young, maybe. Perhaps physical activity is related to competition in sports when you were a young child. Or we had to walk an kilometer in eight minutes to get an "A" and we didn't, so we feel bad and tell ourselves that we don't like to run. There are all sorts of things that are actually barriers to physical activity for the entire population, ”he explained.

After participants took the course on e-bikes, they reported that this did not seem like a difficult workout.

"If we can get people on e-bikes, they can feel like, 'It's not that difficult. This is something that I can do and something I can support and stick to, "Hall said, adding that he sees e-bikes as a possible catalyst to help people move more overall and overcome the barrier of perceived discomfort.

"We really suffer from what we call lifestyle diseases. Cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes. These are all diseases that are directly related to our lifestyle. So getting people to move more – and finding healthy contact for the stress we feel in our work and in our families – is essential. And so I just see e-bikes as an additional tool, an additional opportunity to help people who are otherwise quite stuck or do not enjoy physical activity. "

Although Hall provided the participants with experienced motorcyclists, he said the results still showed Electronic bikes gave them good – albeit easier – training and showed that they could benefit especially those who have more – a sedentary lifestyle, the elderly and those recovering from injuries.

"This can give them the confidence that they need to get back on track and get involved in a really fun sport," the professor explained.

The study is particularly suitable for Utah because of its many popular scenic bicycle paths.

Beginning the study, researchers were aware that not everyone in the cycling community was excited about electric mountain bikes. Some are resilient and do not want to see more people on the paths, leading to erosion.

"And I think there is a perception that when it comes to mountain biking, such as hiking and skiing and other things, there is a natural progression. That you build both your cardiovascular and your durable base, but you also build your skill set. So this is an activity that many users believe is earned, that you gain the ability by putting as many hours on the bike as you can to be on the trails. "

Knowing that this relationship exists, the researchers asked participants several questions about their views on e-bikes. Of these, 61% said they had a more favorable opinion of e-bikes after being ridden.

This is the type of activity that you should try before deciding, Hall said.

But he emphasized that he did not believe that electronic bicycles would replace traditional bicycles. He says he rides both, and enjoys both.

Hall's favorite use of electronic bicycles is when he rides with his 82-year-old father, who is still active but unable to ride a traditional mountain bike because his legs are too difficult to climb hills.

"Aid is enough to help him get over some of those spots he thinks are too difficult at his current age," Hall explained.

While e-bikes remain a rarity in Utah, Hall envisions a time when many people will use them as technology improves and they become more accessible. Now they range in price from about $ 1,000 to, at the higher end, a few thousand dollars.

The researchers then want to replicate the study among an adult group and people with a sedentary lifestyle. Those studies are awaiting approval from the university, Hall said.

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