Over 30 million Americans are affected by type 2 diabetes, though it is far from a uniquely American health issue. Now though, a new study is shining light on just how electric bikes may be a key tool for helping treat the condition in adults.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. This condition has become increasingly prevalent in recent decades, largely attributed to lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, and overall obesity rates. The sedentary nature of modern living, often combined with the consumption of high-calorie, processed foods, has unfortunately created an environment where type 2 diabetes thrives.
Many experts agree that addressing this health crisis requires a multifaceted approach, focusing on promoting healthier living habits around nutrition and activity.
Recently, a study at the University of Bristol investigated electric bicycles as a form of moderate intensity exercise that could help prevent and treat type 2 diabetes.
The key issue is that despite moderate physical activity being one of the best ways to counteract the effects of type 2 diabetes, those that suffer from it are also the least likely to engage in that critical exercise.
According to the authors of the study:
“Physical activity is a key component in the management of type 2 diabetes. However, this population have low rates of physical activity engagement. Electrically assisted cycling has been identified as a means through which to increase physical activity by incorporating activity into daily life, while overcoming some of the barriers to conventional cycling.”
In investigating the use of electric bike riding in a group of study participants who suffered from type 2 diabetes, the study’s authors explored how engaging in the sport was viewed by the e-bike riding participants compared to other forms of exercise.
The study found that “engaging in e-cycling was perceived as an easier way of managing their diabetes than diet or other types of exercise, largely due to the enjoyment of riding”.
Those readers that have tried electric bikes as a form of recreation or exercise won’t be surprised by these findings. Many people often discover that exercising on an electric bike is easier and more enjoyable, while still offering the benefits of regular physical activity.
The pedal-assist feature of electric bikes reduces the strain on muscles and joints, making it a more accessible option for individuals of varying fitness levels and age groups. That pedal assist allows riders to tackle hillier routes and ride longer distances without becoming as tired, encouraging them to stay active for longer periods.
Perhaps more importantly, electric bikes provide a sense of empowerment and freedom, as riders can adjust the level of assistance to match their energy levels each time they ride, ensuring a personalized and fun experience. That fun factor is in many ways enhanced since riders can maintain higher speeds and explore new areas, turning exercise from a chore into an adventure.
The findings of this study aren’t necessarily new, since study after study have shown that people who ride e-bikes get more exercise than those who ride pedal bikes due to riding longer and farther. But the study’s results speak to just how effective e-bikes can be for those with specific conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, for whom regular physical activity is even more important.
Researchers have consistently shown that when bike riders find the sport less grueling, they tend to go on longer rides. A 2019 study of over 10,000 adults across seven countries found that the Metabolic Equivalent Task minutes per week was measurably higher for electric bike riders than for pedal bike riders, resulting in even more exercise among e-bike riders.
That isn’t to say that riding a pedal bike isn’t a great way to engage in physical activity – it absolutely is! But for certain groups like those with type 2 diabetes, the advantages of electric bikes make them even more effective at ensuring that physical activity is performed repeatedly and enjoyably, giving riders the best chance for success.
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