Would Riding an e-Bike Help with Cancer Treatment?

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Those who are suffering from cancer have to deal with many side effects, either from the illness itself or from treatment and medication. Even when in remission, patients who have had cancer often have to reassess which fitness options are right for them, in order to avoid overexertion or risk of injury.

The question inevitably comes up: is riding an electric bicycle safe for cancer patients, and will it help with the treatment of cancer? 

This article will discuss e-Bike benefits for those suffering from or recovering from cancer, based on both scientific and anecdotal evidence. 

Riding an electric bicycle can help extend the lifespan

Health experts note that fitness and exercise for cancer patients can actually help to improve one’s lifespan (source), as well as having it reduce the chances of future cancer recurrences. 

However, cancer patients also need to ensure that they don’t push or overexert themselves when exercising since their body may be in a state of fragility after treatment or certain body functions may be decreased as a result of the illness. 

This is precisely why the exercise of riding an electric bicycle and its ability to be easy on the body, especially with the existence of an electric pedal-assist, makes it a great option for cancer patients. Pedal-assist, which can be adjusted based on the rider’s needs and comfort level, gives riders an extra boost while cycling, ensuring that the riding process does not have to be entirely dependent on human power. 

It is worth noting, as well, that being overweight also increases the chances of cancer recurrence, so if a patient is overweight, it is in their best interest to lose that weight. Since riding an e-bike is an aerobic sport that promotes weight loss, boosting metabolism, and overall fitness, this makes e-Bikes another reliable and beneficial choice for cancer patients. 

Read also: Are electric bikes good for exercise? And, Can I use an e-bike to get fit or for weight loss?

There have also been various accounts of people dealing with different types of cancer – lung, brain, leukemia, and more – who have found that riding an electric bicycle has helped prolong their life and projected lifespans since diagnosis. 

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For example, one account of a patient diagnosed with terminal brain cancer noted that the fitness benefits he gained from e-bike riding made him well enough to deal with palliative cancer treatment (source), and was able to even ride his e-Bike soon after receiving radiation therapy. 

Many have noted that e-Bikes’ ability to flatten terrains to be one of the big benefits. What this means is, with the electric assistance feature, it is easier to overcome bumpy terrain, hills, and rough landscapes, which may otherwise be daunting and potentially dangerous for cancer patients, as this type of terrain can put unnecessary stress on the body, lungs, and joints. 

E-Bikes thus enable riders to overcome these barriers with relative ease, which also allows them to cover more ground and reap more fitness benefits. 

Read also: Can e-bikes help go up steep hills? And, How to switch electric assistance levels on an e-bike?

Various cancer patients, such as the patient mentioned above, have noted that had it not been for the optimal fitness levels achieved through riding an e-bike, they likely would not have been able to handle aggressive palliative treatment like chemotherapy and radiation since these types of treatments are incredibly hard on the immune system.

It is important for cancer patients to not be sedentary in their lifestyle, since decreased levels of fitness may contribute to the chance of a shorter lifespan or being more severely affected by treatment. Having good fitness levels can thus both ready the body for treatment and allow patients to better be able to recover afterward, and even increase the chances that long-term remission is maintained.

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

A vehicle you can use after surgery 

Depending on where you live in the world and what type of surgery you may have to undergo as a cancer patient, it may be advised that you cannot operate a car for a number of weeks (or even months) after surgery.

However, maneuvering an e-Bike is allowed in many places – just be sure to consult your doctors and specialists first. If you are given the green light to do so, however, then not only is riding an e-bike an excellent and accessible option for fitness, but it also gives you the mobility for transportation, errands, family and friend visits, and more. 

Particularly if you are used to driving as your primary means of transport, riding an electric bicycle allows you to ensure that your routine is not majorly disrupted, and still allows you to be independent.  

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There are also many mental health benefits to riding an electric bicycle, which can be very beneficial for cancer patients. Cancer can be an extremely taxing, anxiety-inducing, and even traumatizing illness for a person to go through, so having outlets to help manage your mental health is important. A few mental health benefits of e-bike riding include stress, anxiety, depression, and grief management.   

Read also: Top 10 mental benefits of riding an electric bike. And, Can riding an e-bike improve mental health.

Many patients who deal with illness, not just cancer, have also noted that the sense of freedom that comes with riding an electric bicycle is one of the factors that contribute to improved mental health and overall health management. Since e-bike riding is able to get riders outdoors, this means that you are able to enjoy the scenery and landscape around you, and are also getting fresh air and Vitamin D, which can help to boost your immune system (a big benefit for cancer patients, since treatment options, often target and decrease the immune system). 

There have even been accounts of terminal cancer patients who have felt that riding an e-bike has brought about joy in their lives, allowing them to partake in adventurous and brain-boosting activities rather than stay sedentary. Having that sense of freedom that brings about both mental and physical health benefits is important, even for patients who have been given the limited time left in life.

Electric bicycles are easily customizable

As mentioned already, cancer and associated treatment can deplete a person’s strength and immune system considerably. This makes it even more important to have a fitness option that can both help build and maintain strength and also ensure that the person is not exerting too much while doing so. 

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Even for avid fitness enthusiasts, a cancer diagnosis can make once easy tasks extremely difficult and physically exhausting, or even impossible. 

For example, one account of a cancer patient with leukemia noted that his surgeries and transplants related to his cancer left him with decreased lung capacity. Even though he lived his life as an avid cyclist, the once-regular physical activities and traditional cycling were now impossible and dangerous for him to do. 

However, though he was facing the issue of decreased lung capacity, he was determined to ensure that any further chance of decreased capacity could be slowed in its progression. This patient then decided to turn to ride an electric bicycle to suit his needs, and it was precisely the extensive customizability that was able to be done, as well as the electric assistance, that allowed him to rely on his e-Bike as a primary source of fitness. 

Read also: Does riding an e-bike help train strength and endurance? And, Are electric bikes good for cardio exercise?

Whereas traditional cycling and other exercises that are entirely reliant on human power can be detrimental to a cancer patient and their body, e-Bikes can be customized for optimal comfort and fitness without the risk of overexertion and injury. 

For this specific rider, he chose to invest in a custom e-Bike in order to best benefit his lung condition. Specifications like tubing, forks, cranks, positioning, battery, rims, tires, and more were made to meet the patient’s needs and limitations. 

While you don’t necessarily have to invest in a custom-made e-Bike, keep in mind that if you have very specific barriers and limitations and need to ensure you are not overexerting certain parts of your body that have been affected by cancer, it is certainly worth the research. It may also be a good idea to consult e-Bike specialists or the people working at your local e-Bike shop, to see if investing in a custom or existing e-Bike model will best suit your needs. 

One good overall suggestion for cancer patients to keep in mind is to get a lightweight e-Bike frame. This will help to more easily lift the e-Bike (for storage or getting onto a rack) when need be. 

A few words in conclusion 

People who are dealing with cancer often have to go through extremely difficult and painful times that leaves a person feeling more easily fatigued, weak, and susceptible to injury. Whether you are in the middle of the treatment process or are in remission and recovering, it is not always easy to find an exercise option that is suitable for your needs. 

However, due to the large number of patients who have lauded e-bike riding ability to help them recover, improve fitness, and even extend their life span, it is safe to say that e-Bikes are a great and reliable option for cancer patients. 

Read also: Guidance for riding an electric bicycle with certain health conditions. And, Most common e-bike riding pains, how to prevent and cure.

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