This article is written by Graeme McLaughlin.
It’s no secret that chronic pain and illness is typically what we call a ‘hidden disease’ for many, but what we also know all too well is that exercise is great for our bodies – pain or not, right?
The trouble for so many people who are dealing with chronic illness and the likelihood of frequently debilitating pain is that even walking can be too high-impact at times.
Maintaining independence is one of the hardest things to do for someone with even the most beginning stages of chronic pain or illness, as well. One of the biggest sources of depression in those suffering from chronic illness are the feelings of inadequacy, needing to depend on others to run errands, and that’s all in addition to the pain they may feel from trying to stay active and remain in charge of their lives. So how does someone with a chronic illness get their heart pumping – even a little – to gain the benefits that come from exercise?
Enter the e-bike. E-bikes are often misunderstood, in that there are people who believe it’s “cheating” or not really cycling. But it is all that and more, as the level of exercise can be set and changed by the rider to accommodate their abilities and needs.
Maybe to better understand why an e-bike is a great option for those suffering from chronic illness, there are a few things to think about.
Reason 1: Improve heart health with low-impact cardio
Your lifestyle affects your health, obviously. Watching what you eat, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting in that cardio are three crucial aspects to improving your overall health – but especially your heart health. And no, it’s never too late to start – even if you’ve been the type to neglect your health issues for some time.
Physical activity is absolutely key to helping you maintain your heart health. Of course, you’ll need to discuss any exercise plan thoroughly with your doctors before you begin – but even in the UK, many NHS doctors have taken up using e-bikes just to get to their patients in the first place for home visits – surely that would be a great time to discuss it with them!
Reason 2: Less exertion means less strain on your heart – even in uncomfortable climates
If you’re wanting to improve your heart health, but are dealing with chronic illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure, valve disease, previous heart attack, or something else that’s already damaged your heart, any doctor is going to want you to get that exercise but will tell you not to overdo it. Because e-bikes offer a motorized component, your heart will reap the benefits of exercise without too much strain.
In many parts of the southern United States, and even further north in summer, the humidity, heat and hills can be particularly daunting for those who have health issues. Compounding an already weakened system with stifling heat or increased exertion can be more than enough to make someone choose to just stay at home on the sofa or even simply not get out of bed. E-bikes take the exertion part off the hands (or feet) of the rider whenever needed, so it’s far less an issue.
Reason 3: E-bikes assist your biking to regain independence
A traditional bike requires the rider to work harder on inclines – but an e-bike does more work for the rider when they need it. While many with chronic illness may have bone or muscle issues that limit movement, an electric bike can help. It’s been noted that an electric assist bike can make all the difference for someone living with an illness such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which can feel hopeless due to a lack of mobility. Changing one’s lifestyle and riding an e-bike not only makes exercise attainable, it helps restore a sense of independence.
Reason 4: Need motivation? An e-bike seems to help
In a study conducted by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities in North America, nearly 95% of e-bike owners rode more often on a weekly and daily basis compared to conventional stylists. This study explained that of those who previously owned a standard bike, 59% rode it weekly or daily, compared to 91% riding their e-bike weekly or daily.
Reason 5: Take longer routes to avoid dangerous traffic patterns
One of the best ways to focus on the utilitarian benefits of owning an e-bike is that because of the electric assist, riders can take a longer route without feeling fatigued or worn down. It’s safer than trying to use a standard bike to get from one place to another, especially if you’re suffering from a chronic illness that could cause weakness or fatigue at any moment.
So you see – there are many benefits to choosing an e-bike for yourself or someone you love who is living with chronic illness but wishes to regain their independence, strengthen their cardiovascular system, or work to heal or prevent further complications from their disease.
About the Author: Graeme McLaughlin is the Marketing Head at Evelo, a data nerd, and an E-bike enthusiast who is always excited about testing new bikes. After years of riding and coming from a career in cycle sales, he is still passionate about bicycles. Based in Vancouver, he enjoys riding everything from solo adventures in the mountains to big social night rides.
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