How Does Riding an E-bike Compare To Walking?

Last Updated on June 2, 2022 by Igor Karni

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E-Biking is often compared to traditional cycling when it comes to discussing the benefits. In turn, one of the lesser discussed exercises in these conversations is walking. 

Walking is an exercise that many people turn to because it’s so easy to do, and easy to incorporate into daily life. Whether it’s in the form of an evening stroll, a commute, or a means to run errands, walking is a form of exercise that benefits us in many ways. 

But when it comes to the levels of exercise (calories burnt, fitness levels, and efficiency) how does e-Biking compare? 

This article will outline the similarities and differences between walking and riding your e-Bike. 

Riding an electric bike and walking: comparing calories 

While riding an e-Bike has on average shown to burn fewer calories than riding a traditional bicycle (due to its electric-assist feature), e-Biking can burn anywhere between 280 – 450 calories per hour. This is around the same number as one would burn if they were brisk walking or doing a light jog.  

However, the number of calories burnt is dependent on one’s weight, the distance, and the intensity in which they are walking.  Refer to this chart (source) that offers a more in-depth calculation of calories burnt per mile.  

A slower stroll is unlikely to burn as many calories, whereas a power walk will burn more. The same is to be said for e-biking: riders can choose to ride for longer and with lower pedal-assist, which will result in more calories burnt, or a shorter ride made easier with increased pedal-assist, which will likely be fewer calories burnt. 

The benefits of riding an e-bike, however, are that it allows riders to go for longer distances and more efficiently limits the risk of exhaustion. In fact, many riders note that they barely sweat while riding (source), but are still reaping the fitness benefits. 

Read also: Are electric bikes cheating (backed by research)? And, Are electric bikes good for fitness?

Of course, it’s all relative, but if you are exercising for the scenery or are measuring distance, e-Biking will cover far more ground. Bear in mind, however, that because e-Biking will cover the distance in a much quicker time than walking, you will have to adjust your workout for either a longer time frame or higher intensity to reap a higher level of calories burnt. 

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E-Biking has also been shown to get a larger number of people to be more active (source) than many other forms of exercise, including walking and traditional cycling. Whether it’s the convenience of saving time (walking to make a significant fitness difference can take a lot of time), the sheer fun that e-Bike riders tend to have, the greater scope of scenery one gets to enjoy, or the ease in which e-Bikes can be used for commuting, the benefits are endless.  

While the calories burnt on an e-bike tend to be on the same level as brisk walking, the overall energy spent will be lower on an e-bike than committing to consistent brisk walking or light jogging. E-biking tends to be easier and less strenuous on the body, but still offers the same benefits when it comes to burning calories as walking does. 

E-Biking offers the same health benefits. . . plus more 

The health benefits of walking include increased cardiovascular fitness, reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, and improved management of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Walking can also improve bone density as well as improve one’s balance. 

E-Biking, and cycling in general, offers many of the same benefits. Since it is an aerobic-focused sport (ie. targets your heart, lungs, and endurance), e-Biking can help to manage all of the above, as well as improve metabolism, strength, and fitness levels. 

Read also: Are electric bikes good for cardio exercise? And, Here is why riding an e-bike is probably the best exercise for asthma.

It has also been widely noted (such as in studies like this one) that riders tend to ride their e-Bikes more often than traditional bicycles, largely because of the heightened convenience. E-Bikes also provide a great endurance-building workout that, even when you are riding low-intensity, is a consistent workout for your heart. 

The ability to do low-intensity rides with increased pedal assist also means that, even on days that you’re feeling exhausted or sore from a previous workout, you can still get your circulation and fitness going. Riding on this level means that you won’t have to tire yourself out, but can still get some exercise in.

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Walking doesn’t always allow for this type of customization since it is entirely dependent on human power, whereas e-Biking relies on both human power and electric assistance – and it’s entirely up to the rider as to what that ratio can be. 

One study has actually shown that e-biking elicits a higher intensity workout than walking does (source).

Riding an electric bicycle is more accessible  

One of the great benefits of e-Biking is that uneven or challenging terrain – such as hills – is much easier to conquer on an e-Bike than while walking. It’s E-Biking’s removal of physical barriers that would otherwise be difficult to overcome that encourages more consistent exercise.

It also means that the more hills you battle on your e-Bike, the harder your heart will have to work, and thus the higher the cardiovascular benefit of your exercise regime. 

Read also: Can e-bikes help climb steep hills? And, How safe are electric bikes?

Overall, one is better able to increase the intensity of exercise on an e-Bike without pushing oneself too hard or risking injury than with walking. With walking, there is a lower threshold of the highest level of intensity (because at some point, it will just turn into running), but with e-Biking, the amount of variation one can get depends on the level of assistance, human power, and terrain are much higher.  

Another benefit is that one can rely on their e-Bike for more efficient commute time. Thus, e-Biking can more easily be incorporated into one’s daily routine. Whether that means you use an e-Bike as opposed to a car or transit to see friends, to go to work, or to run errands, you will be getting exercise that way too. 

Walking, on the other hand, is most often not used for commuting (especially in big cities) because it takes much longer to get around that way. The ability to better incorporate e-Biking into a daily routine as opposed to walking, which can take up a lot of time that people may not have the schedule for, makes it easier to reach fitness goals on a consistent basis. 

For those who are dealing with joint problems such as arthritis, e-biking offers a lower impact option of exercise. While the motion of walking itself is low impact, walking on hard surfaces such as concrete or pavement can be hard on the knees and hips.

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Thus, the extremely low impact motion of cycling, as well as the pedal-assist feature, enables riders with joint issues to rely on e-Biking, rather than walking, as a main source of exercise.  

Read also: Can I ride an electric bicycle with knee problems or arthritis? And, Can I ride an electric bicycle with sciatica?

Walking can also be a barrier for the elderly, for those with autoimmune disorders that affect their energy levels, and anyone else that may be dealing with an injury or physical health problems, and can be a much slower process for those who are looking to drop weight.

While walking can be very beneficial, it is not always the most reliable mode of exercise and can be physically taxing if done for a long duration. 

E-Biking, however, has shown to be effective (source) for getting those in their older age back into a consistent fitness regime, to ensure that those with injuries or lower energy levels don’t have to push themselves to exhaustion, and for helping people to lose weight efficiently. 

To put things in perspective, a study by the University of Basel in Switzerland concluded (source) that riding an e-Bike actually shows a similar level of cardiorespiratory improvement as riding a traditional bicycle, since e-Bikes allow for higher biking speeds.  

A few words in conclusion 

While there is absolutely no doubt that walking has many great benefits, e-Biking is overall a great form of exercise that generally caters to a wider demographic and has many of its own benefits to boot.

If you are looking for a more efficient way to get your exercise in, whether that means saving time, increasing fitness levels, or just finding a mode of exercise that will be beneficial without being too strenuous, consider swapping out your walking routine with an e-biking routine.  

Read also: Does riding an e-bike help lose belly fat? And, Does riding an electric bike help train strength and endurance?

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