Do You Get Exercise from Riding Electric Bikes?

People come to us with questions. Usually, it’s questions about eBikes, seeing as how we are Portland’s first eBike shop. (We provide electric bikes for sale and rent in downtown Portland, with affordable price points on name-brand eBikes.) They ask us a variety of questions, such as, “How far can I go on an eBike?” “How fast can I make my eBike go?” “Do I have to pedal?” “Can I get exercise from riding my eBike?”

You can find detailed answers to pretty much all of those questions, as fate would have it, right here on our dedicated FAQ resource. You’ll also find additional information regarding electric bike riding in Portland, how long it takes to charge an eBike, along with some legal regulations we thought it might be helpful to include.

However, there is one question we mentioned above that is not answered on our FAQ page — and it’s related to eBikes and fitness. As the title of today’s post no doubt already gave away, our blog concerns exercise and electric bikes.

If you are looking for a way to get some exercise and fresh air, but you aren’t interested in training for the next Iron Man while riding on Portland’s hilly terrain, exercise from eBiking might be the route for you!

Can You Get A Real Workout From Riding An eBike?

The short answer to the question posed above is, yes, you can get a beneficial workout from riding an electric bike. The long answer is better though, because it explains that you don’t have to exercise on your electric bike unless you want to. In fact, you don’t even have to pedal your eBike, if you don’t want to. There’s a difference between pedal-activated electric bikes and throttle-activated eBikes. The former category of eBikes requires you to pedal in order to engage the motor, whereas the throttle-activated electric bikes do not.

In terms of getting a good workout from riding an eBike, many people are dubious about the kind of exercise they’d be getting because of the “assist” element that is inherent with eBicycling. On the contrary, we’ve found that you can still challenge yourself to a fairly significant degree — with or without the pedal assist.

But you shouldn’t just have to take our word for it (although you could, and we wouldn’t hold it against you). Selene Yeager, a Bicycling writer, wanted to answer the same question we did. So instead of writing a blog, she got out and performed an experiment! She put the question to the test in her 4.9-mile, roundtrip commute from her home to her office. She adorned herself with a heart-rate monitor and did a split-test — performing back-to-back trips, first on an eBike (full assist) and then with a traditional bicycle.

First, she found that the traditional bike took her 18 minutes to complete, whereas the eBike only took her 15:36. Obviously, the effort Selene had to give was reduced with the assist (that’s the idea), but she still burned 65 calories, about half of what she would have when riding on her CX bike. For reference, that’s the equivalent level of exercise as taking a fifteen-minute fitness walk.

For individuals looking for a light workout, eBiking represents a great option!

Research Supported

If Selene’s case study wasn’t enough to move the dial for you, the prestige of the University of Colorado just might. A 2016 study showed that regular use of an electric bike provides riders with beneficial workouts while improving cardiovascular health. The study found that this is especially the case for riders who had formerly been sedentary in terms of lifestyle.

Said James Peterman, a researcher in the Department of Integrative Physiology at CU Boulder: “Commuting with a pedelec can help individuals incorporate physical activity into their day without requiring them to set aside time specifically for exercise.

In the published study, researchers concluded, “Pedelecs (bicycles that provide electric assistance only when a rider is pedaling) are an effective form of active transportation that can improve some cardiometabolic risk factors within only 4 weeks.

As such, we’d propose that riding an eBike could be a smart way to bridge the gap between zero exercise and winning a stage at the Tour de France! We kid, but more seriously, eBiking has been proven to be a beneficial form of exercise, with the research suggesting that doing so to awaken your body from its long slumber just might be the ticket.

Spotlight: Portland eBike Tours

If we’ve talked you into wanting to blend a light workout together with touring Portland, The eBike Store offers Portland electric bicycle tours full of friendly people, fun rides, all in an amazing city! We offer a variety of routes:

  • Downtown Portland & Washington Park Rose Garden Loop
  • Springwater Corridor & Sellwood Loop
  • Central Eastside & Mt. Tabor Park Loop
  • N. Portland, St. John’s, & Cathedral Park Loop
  • South Waterfront & Pearl District Loop

Our eBike tours in Portland are top-rated, featuring local guides who live in Portland and love what they do! But maybe the best aspect of our tours is that we keep them confined to small, private groups of six or less for an intimate and personalized experience.

Eric, from Lake Oswego, had this to say about his Portland eBike tour: “An incredible and fun team building activity for our business. We are all from the Portland area but saw so many things we didn’t know existed or had only heard about. Two thumbs up!

Whether you are planning a team-building event for your staff or you want to get away for the afternoon with family and friends, it’s a great time! Explore our Portland eBike tours today for details.

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