DENVER – With gasoline prices at near-record levels, commuters are increasingly turning to transportation alternatives such as electric cars and bicycles. A hybrid of these popular options not only eases the pain at the pump but also increases physical activity, according to a study being presented at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine and 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine®.
Electrically assisted bicycles may help mitigate pollution, allow people to get to work comfortably and quickly, and eliminate the need for a shower, typically necessary after a conventional bicycle commute.
“Electric bicycles are a very convenient, comfortable and ecological transportation modality,” said Boris Gojanovic, M.D., lead author of this study. “Our study suggests electric bicycles can be an effective means for helping sedentary adults meet physical activity guidelines with the additional benefit of a hassle-free commute.”
Gojanovic and his colleagues from Lausanne University in Switzerland studied 18 individuals with sedentary lifestyles, and subjects performed four different types of commutes as if going to work at a local hospital. Each subject walked two kilometers uphill through the city from a train station to the hospital, pedaled five kilometers from the lower part of town to the hospital on a regular bike and covered the same five kilometer route with the electric bike at two different power-assistance settings (high and medium). The research team measured heart rate, oxygen consumption and the need for a shower among the subjects.
Mean heart rate and oxygen consumption was highest for the conventional bike commute. For both parameters, no significant difference was found for the walking and high-assistance bike commutes. Two subjects needed a shower after the high-assistance bike commute, three after the walk, eight after the medium-assistance bike commute, and all 18 after the conventional bike commute. Moreover, subjects were surprised by the electric bike’s ease of use and the mild effort necessary on the pedals to activate the electric assistance.
The research team concluded that electric bikes should be promoted as an alternative transportation option, especially in hilly cities, to help meet physical activity guidelines, mitigate pollution and ease traffic congestion.
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 45,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.
The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine. Research highlighted in this news release has been presented at a professional meeting but has not been peer-reviewed.