Diabetes type 2 symptoms could be improved with the help of an electric assisted bicycle, according to a new study.
An ‘e-bike’ is a standard pushbike that comes with an electric motor, giving a rider extra assistance when pedalling, up to a maximum speed of 15.5mph.
Their popularity has been surging in the UK, and now experts from Bristol University’s Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences say ‘e-cycling’ could improve the health of people suffering with the condition.
Sufferers typically have symptoms including lethargy and lack of energy, which deters them from exercising.
But lead researcher Professor Ashley Cooper said there is evidence that e-cycling could increase fitness and elicit a heart rate that may lead to improvements in cardio metabolic risk factors in the population.
He added: “Electric bicycles have potential as a health-improving intervention in people with Type 2 diabetes.”
Professor Cooper and his colleagues studied a group of individuals with the disease who were given an e-bike for 20 weeks.
Aerobic fitness levels and heart health were tested both before and after the 20 week survey, using heart monitors and GPS tracking systems.
Remarkably, the subjects’ maximal aerobic power increased by 10.9 per cent and their heart rate reached 74.7 per cent of their maximum potential, compared to 64.3 per cent when walking.
The bikes were used for normal day to day activities.
Professor Cooper said the participants revealed how having an electric bike gave them confidence of taking on more difficult stages of regular push-peddle cycling.
Writing in the journal Diabetic Medicine, he added: “Participants used the electric bicycles for commuting, shopping and recreation, and expressed how the electric bicycle helped them to overcome barriers to active Travel/cycling, such as hills.
“Fourteen participants purchased an electric bicycle on study completion.”
When a person has diabetes type 2, their pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or they don’t react properly to insulin. And insulin is what the body uses to manage sugar levels in the blood, which is used for energy.
The study has been welcomed by leading cycling guru Scott Snaith, founder and director of 50 Cycles, the UK’s longest-running e-bike retailer.
He said: “Getting back on two wheels in adulthood can be a fairly daunting experience, particularly if you’re not at peak fitness and you’re wary of road traffic.
“With an ebike you still have to pedal, and so you’re still getting a workout, but the electric motor gives you a boost so it takes less effort to get up to and maintain a good speed.
“That power assistance comes in handy when faced with a headwind or crosswind.
“And there are safety implications, too, particularly when negotiating busy roundabouts or junctions, and where an extra boost of power might accelerate them out of potential trouble.
“What we’re also seeing are increasing numbers of people using e-bikes as a gateway to off-road mountain biking. There’s a hardcore who might argue it’s ‘cheating’, but to others it’s a way of tackling steep inclines that would prove impossible with a normal cycle.”
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Source : EXPRESS