Are Electric Bikes Good For Cardio Exercise?


Easy E-Biking - city electric bicycle rider, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

Having a balanced exercise routine is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Cardio exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, is crucial to keeping your heart healthy and in lowering the risk of heart disease. 

Cardio exercise is any type of exercise that ranges between low and high intensity and raises your heart rate (Wikipedia link). Doing cardio exercises on a regular or even semi-regular basis can improve your breathing, reduce stress, regulate and decrease your resting heart rate, and can even reduce high blood pressure. 

Are electric bikes good for cardio exercise? E-bikes can be used for cardio exercise and they are good for it. If you would like to use e-bike as cardio training, make sure you have bursts of fast pedaling activity alternating with a more relaxed ride. This will help your cardio training. 

Your heart is a muscle, and just like we exercise to strengthen our leg, arm, and core muscles, cardio is imperative for your heart to stay strong and functioning. Common examples of cardio exercises include running, walking, swimming, dancing and biking. 

There is a common concern around e-Bikes and their effectiveness when it comes to exercise. The pedal assist nature of e-Bikes has caused some to question the amount of physical effort it takes to ride an e-Bike and further poses the question: is riding an e-Bike sufficient enough for your cardio exercise routine? 

The answer may surprise you! 

E-bikes are more accessible than traditional bikes 

While it’s true that traditional bicycles are more physically intensive, e-Biking is not too far off in comparison, and there are a lot of benefits to e-Biking. Not only is the action of cycling an effective way to improve your cardio health, but e-Bikes are also known for being a more accessible and convenient option for many. 

For comparison’s sake, traditional bicycling is compared to the physical benefits of running whereas e-Biking is compared to fast walking. 

When looking at the numbers, the average amount of calories burnt on a traditional bicycle is approximately 400-500 per hour whereas an e-Bike ranges from 300-400

As you can see, the difference isn’t huge, and if you’re looking to burn more calories, you can adjust the intensity of your workout by riding for a longer period of time or altering your assistance levels. 

The benefit of riding your e-Bike over walking or even traditional cycling is that you can get around much faster and cover larger distances. Riders note that their commute to work is also easier (and much less sweaty) on an e-Bike over a traditional bike. 

How not to sweat on an e-bike commute? Take a look at this post to find out.

That’s not all: many cyclists say that they utilize their e-Bike more frequently than their traditional bicycle. In fact, a North American statistic shows (link to research) that only 59% of cyclists said they rode their traditional bicycle daily or weekly, whereas that number jumped to 91% when those riders were asked the same question about their e-Bike. 

That’s a massive difference, and it directly indicates that people are more likely to ride their e-Bike on a regular basis than their traditional bicycles. This means that there is more frequent cardio activity in riders’ lives when they are riding an e-Bike, and frequency is key when it comes to maintaining heart health. 

Riding an e-Bike is a low impact physical activity (meaning it’s gentle on your joints such as knees, hips, and back), and riders tend to note that riding an e-Bike makes it more leisurely to take in the scenery and enjoy the ride while doing so. 

Because of its low impact nature, e-Bikes are also particularly ideal for riders dealing with arthritis or joint injury, for the elderly, for people dealing with physical limitations or chronic illness that don’t allow for more intense or high impact cardio workouts, and for people who are not comfortable with traditional cycling. 

Can I ride an e-bike with knee problems? Find out in this post.

E-biking is also a great option for people who do not regularly go to a gym, who prefer to work out at home, or who consider themselves beginners when it comes to fitness. That’s the great thing about e-Bikes: anyone can do it, and anyone can start at any time in their life. 

Can I use an e-bike to get fit or for weight loss? Check out this post to learn more.

Riding an e-bike will keep you non-sedentary 

A sedentary lifestyle is that of which physical activity is not required often in one’s day-to-day life. Examples of this are driving a car, sitting behind a desk or being stationary for work, and taking public transit. 

You may not notice it, but many of us live sedentary lifestyles unless we are actively making the effort to exercise outside of work hours. And this can be tough to do if you’re living a busy schedule!  

Riding an e-Bike, which is an active as opposed to a passive mode of transportation, will have various benefits including reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. 

E-Bikes are considered active transport because they get you moving: even with pedal-assist, you are still partaking in the action of cycling, which requires your whole body to do so. Your core and lower body, as well as your cardiovascular health, will be strengthened by riding your e-Bike.

It’s important to remember that many people who are riding e-Bikes are doing that instead of driving their car, at least in part. This means that anyone who takes their e-Bike instead of their car is immediately introducing more cardio exercise into their lifestyle. 

If you’re not used to doing much exercise in general or find it hard to schedule in the time, consider switching to an e-Bike when commuting. The cardio workout you’ll get from riding your e-Bike will boost your fitness levels, improve your blood sugar, and can even help you lose weight. 

If you live in a particularly windy, hilly or uneven landscape, e-Biking is a good way to get your exercise without having to be afraid of those obstacles. While riding a traditional bicycle may be harder, riskier, and ultimately a deterrent, riders of e-Bikes note that the pedal-assist nature makes riding up and down hills and uneven terrain an almost nonexistent concern. 

Will e-bikes help go up steep hills? Find out in this post.

For optimal cardio exercise via your e-Bike, aim to ride between three and five days a week for 30-60 minutes at a time (WebMD link). Consider riding an e-Bike as your primary or secondary mode of transport instead of driving or taking the public transit, even just a few days a week, to ensure that you are not becoming too sedentary. 

Even a little bit of riding in replacement of driving will make a big difference to your heart health! 

You can personalize your e-bike cardio workout  

Naturally, the effectivity of any cardio exercise you do depends on how much you are pushing your body and how hard you’re working during that period of exercise. 

The great thing about e-Bikes is that you can adjust the level of assistance depending on your own preference. If you are looking for a more intense cardio workout, you can set the pedal-assist to a lower setting to do so, which will force you to work harder when pedaling and give your heart a more powerful workout. 

You can also try alternating the level of power assist and speed on your e-Bike, going between high and low speeds and resistance when riding. This will increase your blood flow, and the effect will be similar to resistance training. 

Need help in understanding electric assist levels of your e-bike? This post may help.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you are riding a Class 2 e-Bike, pedaling is not required as it is propelled by a throttle. So, if you’re looking for a cardio workout, it’s best to either get a Class 1 (lower speed) or Class 3 (higher speed) e-Bike, which both require pedaling. 

It is precisely the varying levels of resistance and speed that allow for a custom workout, making e-Bikes a great option for people of all ages and body types. So, while it’s true that riding a traditional bicycle is typically more physically challenging than riding an e-Bike, studies have shown that the frequency in which people ride their e-Bikes in comparison means that you can get sufficient cardio workouts while riding your e-Bike. 

Sample cardio exercise on an e-bike

E-cycling becomes cardiovascular when the cyclist does not stop pedaling for 20+ consecutive minutes. By then the heart rate is pumping blood at maximum pressure and uptake of oxygen is close to the maximum.

Sample cardio on an e-bike could look like this.

  1. Warm-up with 5 minutes of easy riding.
  2. Then do 10 sets of 20 seconds as hard as you can.
  3. And 40 seconds recovery.
  4. Ease down your pedaling for 5 minutes and
  5. Then pedal for 20 minutes at a fairly moderate intensity.
  6. Then, every 3 minutes get out of the saddle for a 15-second sprint.
  7. After that back off for a 5-minute easy pedaling again and
  8. You’re done.

That makes a 45-minute cardio exercise. After you do that you will know that you can count cycling as cardio. 

Riding an e-Bike is an extremely accessible option to become part of your regular routine, ensuring a consistent amount of cardiovascular exercise that will benefit your life and health in a variety of ways. 

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