Do electric bikes have the power to improve your health?
Can you pedal your way to health, happiness and wellbeing on an electric bike?
Cycling is a great way to exercise and thousands more Britons have dusted off their bikes in a bid to keep fit in recent years. A lot of those bikes were no doubt consigned to the back of the garage again within weeks, but some diehards get a taste for cycling that sticks with them.
But what about those who face barriers, real or imagined, that rule out cycling? At 50cycles we’ve helped hundreds of people who’d written off the idea of getting back on bike again or have health problems that make it difficult to cycle long enough to feel the benefits. Some suffer from debilitating conditions - sports injuries, hip and knee replacements, ME, Multiple Sclerosis or heart complaints - but have faith in the power of cycling to help them recover. What they all have in common is that they concluded an electrically-assisted bicycle might provide the answer.
So what makes electric bicycles suitable for riders with an eye on their health? The most obvious benefit is the boost for both your stamina and perception of your own strength and cycling ability. With a good electric bike, cycling over distances that might exhaust an unassisted rider becomes invigorating rather than exhausting. Hilly routes are flattened out, headwinds banished and even loading your bike up with shopping and passengers becomes a possibility. Electric bikes simply make cycling make sense again for riders of almost any ability.
This sense of possibility boosts confidence and brings with it all sorts of positive psychological experiences. It’s easy for your mind to settle into a contented state, free from your usual cares and worries as the scenery eases by at a happy rate.
You might find that solutions to thorny problems come to mind when you really get into your ride and your mind if free to wander around itself. It’s hard not to smile and feel at one with rest of the world, something that is certainly not the case when driving these days, when it's more like you agains the rest of the world.
There are hundreds of studies that point towards this positive state of mind having untold health benefits by reducing blood pressure, helping breathing, digestion, easing depression, and so on.
Putting aside the effect cycling has upon your mind, there are also profound benefits for your general wellbeing. Health authorities like the World Health Organisation now recommend at least 2½ hours of accumulated moderate exercise for everybody each week. Less than half an hour a day can help improve heart and lung function, boost muscular fitness, strengthen your bones and ward off depression, chronic illnesses and mental decline. There are few more accessible and direct ways to complete a couple of hours exercise than atop an electric bicycle. Lower fuel and parking expenses, faster journeys and unmatched independence are just some of the long-term benefits.
Many of our customers have told us about how riding their electric bike has had a measurable effect on their health. One notable case comes to mind, a customer who contacted us last year to tell us the following:
“Went through a thousand kilometers on the Kalkhoff this week. Had the bike for five weeks. Just thought it would be useful to let people know how it's performed over an extended period. Well, it's been life changing. I bought the bike to try and improve my health.
I'm a type 2 diabetic. I have been for seven years. At the beginning of April 2012 I took 2000mg of Metformin and injected 18 unit of Insulin twice daily to control my diabetes. A week ago I stopped all my diabetic medication on the advice of my Doctor and Diabetic nurse. Not a miracle. Just 200 km a week on a bike that allowed me to maintain a constant effort without leaving me struggling to recover. When I was put on Insulin at Christmas I was told it was statistically unlikely I would ever get off it.”
Every week we receive emails from customers in the seventies, sometimes in their eighties, who tell us they feel like they’ve signed a new lease on life with improved health, greater independence and the opportunity to rejoin their families on weekend cycling jaunts… the list of life-affirming minor miracles goes on and on. We have ten years’ worth of these stories now and who knows how many tonnes of excess weight have been shed along the way.
What if some electric bikes were designed their bikes with these specific benefits in mind? Well, that’s precisely what has happened in the case of German manufacturer Kalkhoff and their new Impulse Ergo electric bicycle. Features like it’s 60-mile-plus range, automatic continuously variable transmission and superb comfort are all notable but it’s the integration of a wearable heart monitor that marks a breakthrough.
It’s the first electric bicycle - the first vehicle of any type as far as we’re aware - that works with the rider to maintain a constant heart rate throughout the ride. This makes it easy to manage how much exercise you’re getting without the risk of over-exertion. Sometime soon your GP might prescribing an electric bicycle and a guide to local cycle routes to some patients. As futures go, cycling into the sunset on a smart electric bike with the power to look after your health is one of the more enjoyable possibilities.