PROVO – For many adults, the phrase "as easy as cycling" may sound like an incorrect number.
Because let's face it – exercise is not fun for everyone.
But researchers from Brigham Young University found in a recent study that electric mountain bikes provide nearly as strenuous training as traditional bikes, while not making the buyer feel as if they have just completed a difficult workout.
The idea for the study, recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, came among three BYU professors in public health, all avid mountain bikers, when they took students on trips abroad to Europe in recent years, said Cougar Hall, lead author of the study .
That's where the popularity of e-bikes has gone up, Hall said.
"We thought:" We don't see these at home that often. "But we noticed, our students would tell us," Man, I hate cycling at home because it's so difficult. But these are just simple enough that I think I would cycle often, "Hall recalled.
The professors wanted to find out if electric bikes are really easier for people and if they still provide a decent workout. [1
They found that e-bike tours put participants in the "moderate to heavy" heart rate zone, averaging only 9.9 heartbeats per minute lower than on a traditional bike.
"It was pretty cool, they actually got training that we hoped they would get," Hall said.
While cycling on bikes, participants' heart rate was in what exercise experts call "a powerful training zone," which strengthens the heart, he
These results may open new avenues for many who feel that
A large portion of the population faces various obstacles to physical activity, such as lack of hiking trails, poor air quality and cold weather, but one of the biggest barriers for many is "that they perceive it to be difficult" , according to Hall.
"And we often have these really negative feelings, from being pushed too much when we were little, maybe. Maybe physical activity is associated with competition in sports when you were a little kid. Or we had to run the mile in eight minutes to get an "A", and we didn't, so we feel bad and we tell ourselves that we don't like running. There are all sorts of things that actually impede physical activity for the entire population, "he explained.
After participants took the course on e-bikes, they reported that it did not feel like a tough exercise.
" If we Can get people on e-bikes, they can feel that, "This is not that difficult. This is something I can do, and something that I can maintain and stick to, "Hall said, adding that he sees e-bikes as a possible catalyst to help people move more generally and overcome the barrier to perceived discomfort.  "We really suffer from what we call lifestyle diseases. Cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes. These are all diseases that are directly related to our lifestyle. So to get people moving more – and finding a healthy outlet for the stress we feel in our work and in our families – is important. And so I just see e-bikes as an additional tool, an additional opportunity to help people who are otherwise quite sedentary or do not enjoy physical activity. "
Although Hall admitted the participants were experienced cyclists, he said the results still show e-bikes gave them a good – but easier – training and showed that they could especially benefit those with a more sedentary lifestyle, older people and the recovering from injuries.
"It can give them the confidence they need to get back on track and get involved in a really, really fun sport," the professor explained.
The study is particularly suitable for Utah because of its many popular scenic bike trails.
When the study started, the researchers were aware that not everyone in the cycling community is happy about electric bicycles. Some are resistant and do not want to see more people on the tracks and cause possible erosion.
"And I think there is a perception that in terms of mountain biking, like hiking and skiing and other things, that there is a natural development. That you build up both your cardiovascular and endurance base, but you also build up your skill. So it is an activity that many users think you earn, that way you earn the ability by putting so many hours on the bike to be on the tracks. "
Knowing that the attitude exists, the researchers asked participants some questions about their views on e-bikes. Of those, 61% said they had a more favorable opinion about e-bikes after riding them.
That's the kind of activity you need to try before making a decision, Hall said.
But he stressed that he does not. I think e-bikes replace traditional bikes. He says he goes both and enjoys both.
Hall's favorite use of e-bikes is when he goes with his 82-year-old father, who is still active but unable to ride a traditional mountain bike because it is too difficult for his legs to climb the hills.
"The help is just enough to get him over and through some of the places he knows are too difficult in his current age," Hall explained.
While e-bikes remain uncommon in Utah, Hall anticipates a time when many people will use them as technology improves and they become more affordable. Now they range in price from about $ 1,000 to, at the higher end, several thousand dollars.
Next, the researchers want to replicate the study among an older group and people with sedentary lifestyles. Those studies are awaiting approval from the university, Hall said.