Cycling is regarded as one of the healthiest activities you can do – it can improve your fitness, fortify your immunity and boost your sense of wellbeing, among a host of other health benefits.
But are electric bikes health benefits the same? E-bikes sometimes get a bad rub of the green, with some arguing that you don’t get enough exercise to achieve these the same benefits when riding one. But that’s simply not true!
Here are our top 9 health benefits that you can look forward to if you start using an e-bike more often.!
1. E-bikes provide moderate exercise
At its core an e-bike is a simple pedal bike – something that so many of us have learned to ride during our childhood. You start, ride and finish a ride in exactly the same way; you just have the assistance of a motor that adds to the effort that you put in.
“[E-biking] is not a no-exercise option,” says Professor Ashley Cooper, former Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health at Bristol University. “It’s a really great way of getting moderate-intensity activity.
His research has shown that in most cases, moderate physical activity is gained from the use of an e-bike, providing less intensity than conventional cycling, but more than walking. Importantly, riding an e-bike can improve the cardiorespiratory fitness of those who were previously inactive .
Meanwhile, a 2019 paper also backs up the theory that electric bikes deliver moderate-intensity exercise – even putting e-bikes on a par with ordinary bikes . It tracked 10,000 people across seven European cities, and found those who rode traditional bikes and e-bikes amassed roughly the same amount of physical activity. In short, the impact of the pedal assistance was cancelled out by the longer distances and greater frequencies that those on e-bikes often rode.
2. Improved cardiovascular health
With moderate exercise comes improved overall health – a common benefit that we hear about time and again from experts. But, one of the main benefits is cardiovascular health .
Cardiovascular health relates to how efficiently your body can absorb and use oxygen, while transporting and getting rid of carbon dioxide. By using an e-bike and getting moderate exercise regularly, your body gently adapts to the activity by creating more efficient capillaries that can swap oxygen and carbon dioxide at the lungs and muscles, and creates more red blood cells to move the gases more easily.
Ultimately, this can make everyday tasks much easier – while you’re likely to feel like you have more energy for those day-to-day jobs too!
3. Improved heart health
Alongside cardiovascular health improvements, riding an e-bike regularly can also see improvements in your heart health too.
As your heart works a little harder while you perform physical activity, it beats faster and stronger to keep your blood pumping around your body. Remember that your heart is a muscle, so the more you exercise it, the more it adapts to this stimulus.
This results in a stronger heart structure, able to pump more blood around the body with less effort. In the longer term, you’re likely to see a lower resting heart rate (normally a good sign of a strong heart and cardiovascular health), while it won’t need to work as hard when you’re out riding your e-bike at the same intensity either!
4. Improved muscle tone
While you can’t see your heart strengthening physically, you certainly can see changes when it comes to muscle tone throughout the rest of your body – especially your legs.
Riding a bike is known to improve your general strength, and by using your muscles more often – even lightly – tone and strength will improve. You’ll notice firmer muscles, especially at the main muscles doing the work, including your quads, hamstrings, calves and even your glutes.
At the same time, riding a bike involves balance and an element of steadying yourself, which means that your core gets a workout too. If you choose to ride a bit harder, even your arms get a light workout too!
5. Increased metabolism for weight loss
While riding an e-bike needn’t be strenuous, increasing your physical activity also means that you burn more energy. Even if you use your e-bike to gently potter to the local shops or go for a steady ride at the weekend with friends, you’ll be burning more energy than you would have done if you’d driven a car, taken a bus, train or walked.
This means that you’ll be in a better position to maintain your weight or lose a few kilos  (if that’s your goal), but the best news is that once you stop riding, your metabolism will stay elevated as you recover. Essentially, you keep burning energy (calories) even when you’ve finished!
Of course, this effect doesn’t last forever – once you’ve recovered from a single bout of exercise, your metabolism will return to normal, so it’s important to keep up regular activity to keep it working for you. Over time, as your body becomes more attuned and adapted to this regular e-bike riding, it will burn more energy at rest as you’ll have more muscle fibres to keep oxygenated and ready for action.
6. Boosts immune system
With improved health comes improved immunity . Although in recent times our physical and mental health has been brought into sharper focus, a healthy body has always contributed to a stronger-functioning immune system.
While not a silver bullet to defeat all illnesses, a stronger immune system results in an improved ability to resist getting simple coughs and colds, while it’s in better shape to deal with any illness that does get through your defences. This means that you can feel better than you would have done, and potentially recover faster too.
Want to turn that week-long flu bug into a three-day cold? Riding an e-bike more often can really make a difference.
7. Improves wellbeing and reduces stress
Although physical benefits are the most visible, equally as important is our mental health. What psychological wellbeing means is unique to us as individuals, but riding an e-bike has the ability to help everyone achieve a healthier state of mind.
It’s well-known that getting out in sunlight and fresh air regularly is important for our overall health, but e-bikes can offer a level of freedom and escapism to new places that you might not have experienced before. The NHS claims a 30% lower risk of depression for those taking part in physical activity .
Plus, the sheer enjoyment of riding a bike can offer respite from the daily stresses that we all experience, and the endorphins we earn from doing exercise can really help lift spirits.
8. Helps disease management
The causes of long-term illnesses like diabetes, cancer and heart disease (to name a few) are diverse and continually being researched, but one thing is sure: increased physical activity, like riding an e-bike, can play a part in reducing your risk of developing a health condition and staying on top of it .
“E-bikes are good option for people for whom physical activity is important for better health, but who may be compromised by a clinical condition,” says Cooper.
“For example, people with type 2 diabetes, which also appears to be a risk factor for adverse COVID-19-related outcomes.”
Expanding on his research, Cooper says, “E-biking is viewed as an enjoyable form of physical activity to aid the self-management of type 2 diabetes. It may support people with type 2 diabetes to reduce their medication intake and in turn foster greater autonomy in managing the condition.” 
9. Improves quality of sleep
Sleep is vital for our minds and bodies to recover. Even on days when we haven’t done very much, we all need to ‘close down’ and achieve good quality sleep to be on top of our game the following day.
By riding an e-bike and doing steady exercise, we can invigorate our energy levels. Plus, while it sounds a little backwards, in doing so we encourage our minds and bodies to get better quality sleep when it’s time to rest.
This can result in a more regular sleeping pattern, and deeper, more restful sleep, which in turn leads to more alertness and readiness for the next day.
1 Bourne et al. (2018). Health benefits of electrically-assisted cycling: a systematic review. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition & Physical Activity.
2 Castro et al. (2019). Physical activity of electric bicycle users compared to conventional bicycle users and non- cyclists: Insights based on health and transport data from an online survey in seven European cities. Transportation research interdisciplinary perspectives. ResearchGate.
3 Oja et al. (2011) Health benefits of cycling: A systematic review.
8 Searle A et al. (2019). Engagement in e-cycling and the self-management of type 2 diabetes. BJGP Open,.