Welcome to Riding 365, an occasional series of stories exploring how to use ebikes to further health and wellness goals.
Thought experiment time: if you had to choose one form of exercise and that was it—you couldn’t do any others for the rest of your life—which would you choose and why? Imagine you could only go running, or only swimming, or only play tennis, or golf, or any of countless other examples. How would you make your choice? Would you choose the exercise that gives you the most efficient workout? Or the most complete workout? Or the one you enjoy the most?
We may be a bit biased, but we’re going to make the case for why no other exercise or sport can touch what cycling has to offer—especially when it comes to exercising the most important muscle in your body (your heart)!
Those who study the science of exercise will tell you there are three levels of cardio activity: low intensity, moderate intensity, and high intensity. All are valuable for different reasons—and the most effective fitness programs should probably include all three.
An easy way to determine your level of cardiac activity while exercising is the “talking test,” rating how hard or easy it is to keep talking while working out. During a low intensity workout like a walk in the park or leisurely ride through the neighborhood, conversing normally is not a problem. Bump your activity level up to a brisk jog, a longer and more strenuous ride, or laps in a pool: your heart begins to work harder. It’s possible to converse, but maybe you need to pause to catch your breath. That’s a medium intensity workout. Logically, it follows that a high intensity workout is when you’re going all-out for a short duration. There’s no way you’d want to converse with anyone. Think interval training, or climbing a super-steep hill on your two-wheeled steed. Do you notice a common denominator about these exercise intensity levels? That’s right: you can get a low, medium, or high intensity workout on your electric bike, depending on how hard you’re pedaling– and how much motor assist you use.
That’s a very key reason why cycling is the best answer to the wacky hypothetical we posed above. Add in an electric motor, and you’re able to further tune your workout by using the motor assistance to help determine how hard you need to pedal. For example, you can use higher assist on inclines to transform a challenging hilly route into a low-intensity pedaling workout. Conversely, if you want to maximize interval training you can reduce motor assist to ensure maximum difficulty for short bursts, then bump up the assistance so your between-interval recovery is optimized!
To recap: electric bikes are an ideal cardio machine because you can make your workout as hard or as easy as you want it to be, and because they allow you to efficiently exercise your heart at all three levels.
But if that’s not enough of a reason to try one out, how about these added bonuses?
- It can save you gas money if you’re riding places you used to drive to...like the gym.
- You don’t need to set aside time for a workout anymore—your workout now takes place while you’re riding to do your errands.
- Maybe the most important reason is this: few activities are as fun as riding an ebike!
That’s all for this thought experiment. You can go back to doing as many different exercises and playing as many sports as you want. Our goal was never to try to convince you that an ebike is the only piece of exercise equipment you’ll ever need; rather, that it’s a fast, fun and effective piece that fits into anybody’s fitness program.
Next time on Riding 365, we'll look a little deeper into how ebikes can fit into a specific exercise plan.