Electrically Assisted Cycling: A New Mode for Meeting Physical Activity Guidelines?

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Abstract

Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to assess the potential of the electrically assisted bicycle (EAB) as a novel tool for meeting the physical activity guidelines in terms of intensity.

Methods:

Twelve habitually active adult subjects were requested to cycle a track of 4.3 km at an intensity they would normally choose for commuter cycling, using three different support settings: no support (NO), eco support (ECO), and power support (POW). For estimating the intensity, the oxygen consumption was measured by using a portable gas-analyzing system, and HR was simultaneously measured. The bicycle was equipped with the SRM Training System to measure subjects' power output, pedaling rate, and the cycle velocity.

Results:

Mean intensity was 6.1 MET for NO, 5.7 MET for ECO, and 5.2 MET for POW. Intensity was significantly lower in POW compared with that in NO. No differences were found between NO and ECO and between ECO and POW. Mean HR was significantly higher in NO compared with that in ECO and POW. The cycling speed with electrical support settings was significantly higher than cycling in the NO condition. Mean power output during cycling was significantly different among all three conditions. Most power outputs were supplied in the NO condition, and the lowest power output was supplied in the POW condition.

Conclusions:

Intensity during cycling on an EAB, in all three measured conditions, is sufficiently high to contribute to the physical activity guidelines for moderate-intensity health-enhancing physical activity for adults (cutoff, 3 MET). Further study is needed to conclude whether these results still hold when using the EAB in regular daily life and in subjects with other fitness level.

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