Electric bikes give riders many benefits. In fact, Older cyclists who use electric bicycles may be getting the same brain benefits as those on traditional bikes.
A new research study with the lead researcher Dr. Louise-Ann Leyland, published in PLOS ONE has found that older cyclists between the ages of 40-83 have experienced cognitive and mental health benefits from riding an electrically assisted bike.
“It is really encouraging that this research suggests older adults’ cognitive function (particularly what we call the executive function as well as processing speed) could be improved by cycling in the natural/urban environment, even when that was on an electrically assisted e-bike.
“Furthermore, we found that some aspects of mental health and well-being increased in participants, who cycled on an e-bike for an hour and a half a week for an eight-week period. This suggests that there may be an impact of exercising in the environment on executive function and mental health. It would be great to see the effect of cycling, particularly e-bike use, on cognition and well-being in a larger sample of participants over a longer period of time.”
This new study is one of the first to investigate the impact of bike riding outside of a laboratory environment on cognition and the well-being of older adults, the researcher said.
Researchers found that older adults using electric bikes reported an even greater improvement in brain function and mental wellbeing as people who used traditional bikes. Researchers suggest that a lot of the additional benefits that electric bikes provide to older adults have an effect beyond increasing physical activity.
The team also noted that people using electric bikes used a variety of settings to assist pedalling, spending on average 28 per cent of the time in the lowest mode (eco) setting and 15 percent with the motor off altogether.
“Among the older adults involved in this project, e-bikes have a number of very positive benefits and in some cases even more so than standard cycles. The findings were not fully what we expected as we thought that the biggest benefit would be seen in the pedal bike group, with cognitive and wellbeing benefits linked to cardiovascular exertion.
“This study confirms that getting out on your bike is good for the brains of older people. But what surprised us is that these benefits are not only linked to the extra levels of exercise.
“We had thought that those who used traditional, pedal-only powered bikes would have the greatest brain and mental health boost, as they would be giving their cardiovascular systems the biggest workout.
“Instead, people who used e-bikes told us that they felt more confident in completing the requested activity of three 30-minute rides a week for eight weeks, compared to pedal bikers. The fact that the group was able to get outside on a bike, even without much physical exertion, is likely to make people feel mentally better.
“If having a bit of extra help from an electric motor encourages more people to cycle, the positive effects can be shared across a wider age range and with people who are less confident on a bike.”
“Our research demonstrated that the wider therapeutic benefits of cycling outdoors need to be considered. Our participants reported improvements in confidence and self-esteem. The E-bike enabled them to explore their local area and interact with people and the natural environment secure in the knowledge that they could rely on powered assisted support to get then home safely and stress-free.”
In a separate article carried out by CycleBOOM project, the team spoke to older adults who were going on cycling ‘micro adventures’ The article found electric bikes played a very large role in helping older adults to consider cycling as more of a mode of transportation for visiting friends and reconnecting old areas of interest.