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Electric assist bicycles are still a good exercise for physically inactive people

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Posted July 18, 2016

It is not a secret to anyone that riding a bike is good for your health, especially for those, who spend majority of their days sitting in the office. One kind of bikes, however, is usually viewed as not beneficial and some health practitioners even advice avoiding it – electric bikes. Now scientists from University of Colorado Boulder say that electric assist bicycles, known as pedelecs, do provide riders with a good workout and benefits their cardiovascular health.

Pedelecs help travelling faster, further and with less effort, but still provides riders with needed exercise. Image credit: Chrischerf via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Pedelecs help travelling faster, further and with less effort, but still provides riders with needed exercise. Image credit: Chrischerf via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Pedelecs are not a new invention, but as they got cheaper, more and more people are starting to consider them. Advantages are many – riders can cover longer distances easier, electric power helps dealing with inclines, and it is less tiring experience for those, who ride a bike to work. For all these reasons pedelecs are quite popular in Europe and Asia. However, people are still arguing about its purpose and place in the community of cyclists. Therefore, scientists decided to investigate this question a little closer, to see if electric assist bicycles help physically inactive non-cyclists achieve recommended daily fitness levels.

In order to find out whether pedelecs benefit people’s health, scientists invited twenty participants, who are not physically active and use a car for their daily commute. All important measurements of their health were taken before the experiment started. Then participants of the study were given pedelecs to ride at least 40 minutes three times per week, with a heart monitor and a GPS device monitoring their activity. Finally, after the experiment that lasted for a month measurements of the health of the participants were taken again.

Scientists immediately noticed improvements in comparison with data, taken before the experiment. For example, aerobic capacity and improved blood sugar control of the participants have improved significantly. This means that pedelecs do provide people with important health benefits.

However, it was not a comparative study to see if these effects are comparable with a normal bike. Although electric assist bicycles may not be for everyone, they do require pedalling, which provides people with exercise they need. It is especially important to people who are not physically active at all – additional speed and comfort of pedelecs can attract them better and essentially encourage them to step out of their cars.

Source: colorado.edu

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