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E-Biking My Way to RA Exercise

For my 30th birthday a few years ago, my husband surprised me with a big, big, big surprise gift. He knew I wanted a way to exercise and be outside with my family, but due to my chronic pain (I was undiagnosed at this time) and lung disease, traditional biking was too challenging. The physical strain it put on my body eclipsed all the fun of biking.

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This conundrum was quite the disappointment for me. That is, until I unwrapped my very own electric bike!

The benefits of an E-bike

Electric bikes, or E-bikes, have gained popularity over the last few years as an alternative to the traditional leisure bicycle. Equipped with a motor and battery, e-bikes are like normal pedal bikes but can give the rider an extra power and speed boost when needed.

There are many different bike models, sizes, types, and price ranges as well, making them user-friendly for all different types of people.

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Overall, E-bikes are a great option for people who commute to work, live in a city where cars are inaccessible, enjoy biking long distances, or have a physical limitation that makes biking more difficult, like rheumatoid arthritis — and, of course, they're great for people who like to go fast!

Research also shows that physical activity such as biking, swimming, walking, etc. is beneficial to people living with RA.1

Helpful variation in my E-bike's usage modes

My E-bike, from Rad Power Bikes, has 3 modes that a rider can switch between using the hand controls on the handle bars:

  • Pedal-only: Like a traditional bicycle, the rider pedals to move the bike.
  • Pedal-assist: While the rider pedals, the motor turns on and provides an extra boost. It’s a mix of pedaling and the motor helping in the background.
  • Throttle-only: Throttle-only propels the bike using the electric motor only. Pulling back the hand throttle gear, it feels like you’re riding a moped or small motorcycle.

Pedal-only mode

I find that when I go on a bike ride, I use all 3 modes throughout the ride. Pedal-only is great for cardio and making sure I am actually exercising and breaking a sweat. E-bikes are generally heavier than your typical bike, so using the pedal-only mode is truly a tough workout.

Pedal-assist mode

Up hills or on uneven terrain that requires more heavy pedaling, pedal-assist is great to help move the bike without putting extra stress on the joints. Sometimes, I’ll turn the pedal-assist on the lowest setting to help me up a hill without draining all my energy before the ride is over. Pedal-assist also allows me to keep up with my 6-year-old son (who is a master on his bike) and allows me to have a toddler seat attached to the back. Without the boost from the motor, I know I would not have the physical endurance to ride like that. It's such a great help!

Throttle-only mode

Lastly, full throttle is just fun! It truly feels like you’re riding a mini motorcycle as you cruise down the street with the wind in your helmeted hair. Full throttle is full of smiles!

My E-bike has improved my quality of life

If you are in the market for a new bike or looking for a type of exercise that can be tolerated and enjoyed with RA, then I highly suggest looking into an E-bike. Although an E-bike may be a financial investment, I believe the enjoyment and health benefits far outweigh the price. My E-bike has improved my quality of life so much — beyond the physical benefits of exercise for creaky joints.

Are you interested in owning an E-bike? What types of exercise do you find benefit your RA? Share in the comments section below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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