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Could an e-Bike Be the Answer to Your Movement Needs?

By Martha Michael

Bicycle Workouts

Bicycling is more than just pedal power these days. A form of exercise that used to preclude the young, the old, and people with below-average fitness levels from combing the countryside, e-bikes are the great equalizer. Participants of nearly every age and ability can bicycle together with relative ease. Provided you don’t go full electric, the e-bike will introduce movement into the act of getting from here to there, and that’s always a healthy choice.

Exercise for Everyone

If the one thing keeping you from choosing healthy exercise for your group activities is the age range of your family members, e-bikes are the answer. A huge selling point is how they even the playing field in terms of everyone’s abilities -- something that’s more difficult with other forms of fitness such as jogging or a friendly game of football.

On an electric bike you can pedal without adding the energy of the battery, like a typical bicycle ride, or you can incrementally add some boost to your effort as you tire or as the trail gets more difficult. The throttle on Grandma’s handlebar means she can take the hills as well as your teenager, and so can your 5-year-old.

There are various styles of e-bikes with components that augment your pedaling, and you control the level of assistance, explains the Evelo Electric Bicycles website. Some bikes have three gears, while others have an internal drivetrain offering unlimited gears. You can switch to pedal assistance while in motion and you can speed up or lessen your pedaling efforts by gearing up. Freeing your feet completely, you can choose the “electric only” setting which will take you up to 20 miles per hour.

The Bicycle History website says there are approximately 120 million electric bikes in China and there are 1.5 million e-bikes sold per year in North America and Europe.

Though e-bike sales have enjoyed recent boosts in popularity, the first models registered by the U.S. patent office date back to 1895. One hundred years later, e-bike models came out with torque sensors and power controls. The first two companies to reach worldwide mass production were Yamaha and Panasonic in the early 2000s.

Good, Clean Fun

With no combustion engine, this environmentally friendly device releases no harmful emissions, and an improvement upon other forms of public road transportation options such as cars, buses and trains. Other than battery changes, e-bikes have the same impact on the climate as regular bicycles.

Another advantage to e-bikes, says an article on the website Green America, is that by increasing the distance an individual can ride, more people are commuting on two wheels instead of four.

“Consumers looking to leave the car at home -- or forego a second car -- can now find a new generation of ‘person-assisted’ electrified conventional bikes and recumbent bikes (in which the rider reclines while pedaling),” the article says. “These vehicles offer a transportation solution that’s far preferable to going by car: they save gas money, run quietly, reduce pollution and global warming emissions -- and riding them is fun.”

Healthy Choice

It may not seem like a health issue, but the Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that up to 69 percent of car trips for Americans are no more than two miles away. Using an e-bike reduces carbon emissions while also increasing fitness levels for the rider. A moped or a motorcycle doesn’t give you any exercise, but an e-bike enables you to leave out the pedal-assist feature and sweat it out or choose a little less personal benefit by using the throttle. You can pull a child in a bike trailer or carry bags from the market, and at times the e-bike is faster than a car because you bypass traffic congestion.

At a time when the majority of American adults are overweight, nearly half falling into the “obese” range, finding convenient methods of raising your activity level is ideal. If you don’t have the time or money for a gym membership and your job keeps you in front of a screen, an e-bike can be the incentive that gets you moving more than usual.

Pushing pedals may be more work than you wanted, but the power provided by e-bikes destroys any argument for not enjoying some healthy biking and additional physical movement. It clears the path for you to put your best foot forward toward improving your fitness profile … and you take in some nice scenery too.

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