Is too much time indoors making you restless? With COVID-19 sweeping across the country, hundreds of millions of Americans are finding themselves indoors way more than they like to be.
On the importance of fresh air and exercise in people’s lives, Alexei Wagner, medical director within Stanford’s Department of Emergency Medicine, said, “Anything anyone can do to help optimize their health in the next weeks to months could potentially help them if they got infected by the coronavirus.”
Is it safe to ride outside?
Jordan Smith, Digital Editor for Bicycling magazine, asked experts if it is safe to ride outside. David Nieman, Appalachian University Human Performance Lab, and Brian Labus, Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada Las Vegas answered, “Yes—in fact, it’s safer to be outside than inside when it comes to disease transmission. The coronavirus is thought to spread primarily through close contact between people – within about six feet.”
“The primary mode of transmission is through respiratory droplets. There is better airflow outside than in confined spaces. That airflow outside reduces the risk of one person transmitting the virus to another through droplets in the air,” says Albert Ko, Yale epidemiologist. "So if you're going out and you're hiking or biking or running and you're not within, say, six feet or 10 feet of another person, I would consider that a healthy, safe practice." Ko also points to the significant mental health issues that can be caused or exacerbated when people are cooped up.
How hard should you ride or workout?
Dr. Nieman, quoted above, is a pioneer in the research area of exercise immunology and helped establish that regular moderate exercise lowers upper respiratory tract infection rates while improving the ability of the immune system to detect pathogens and that heavy exertion increases infection rates while causing immune dysfunction.
According to Smith’s interviews (2020), “If you exercise too hard as you deplete your stores of glycogen, your immune system does not function as well as it normally does. That means in the hours following a hard ride or race, if you have been exposed to someone who has been sick with the flu or coronavirus, your body’s defenses are down,” Neiman says. Additionally, mental or physical stress—caused by exerting yourself on a long ride, in a race, or after a very hard workout—could slightly increase your chances of becoming ill, Labus explains. (Smith, 2020)
“I would caution cyclists to avoid long, intense rides or workouts right now until we get through all this ...,” Nieman says.
Ebikes naturally encourage optimal and safe levels of exercise.
A study conducted at Monash University in Melbourne Australia showed that riders on conventional bikes exceeded their target heart rate 50% of the time and exceeded their maximum heart rate 5% of the time. Those on e-bikes naturally kept their heart rate in the target zone over 93% of the time but still got close to 90% of the exercise of those on conventional bikes.
While riding e-bikes, the participants’ heart rates were in what exercise experts call the “vigorous training zone,” which strengthens the heart, he said.
.After the participants rode the course on the e-bikes, they reported it was enjoyable and it didn’t feel like a tough workout. “If we can get people on e-bikes, they might feel like, ‘This isn’t so hard. This is something I can do, and something that I can maintain and stick with,’” Hall said.
Ebikes are available at almost every bike shop now. Additionally, if you already have a bike you like, you can choose to convert it to an ebike. Just add a motor, a battery, a throttle, and a few sensors. Motors range from 250 watt hub motors to mid-drive motors like the BBS02 and BBSHD that can provide assistance up to 10 times your own power. The lighter weight TSDZ2 motor is a great choice for those that want natural feel that comes with a motor that can sense how much torque you are applying to the pedals. You can buy a kit or bring your bike into the shop and have the conversion done for you.
An e-bike can help you stay healthy
Social distancing is as important outdoors as indoors, so only ride with people in your own household, stay at least 6 feet away from any others and avoid contact with objects others may have touched. Beyond that, it is just as important to take care of your physical, mental and emotional health. For many of us, that means getting outside and getting some exercise.
so you boost your immune system and eliminate the risk of over-exertion which can compromise your immune response. Getting outside and getting your heart pumping is also great for your mental health and emotional well-being.
But be safe out there! Maybe even ride a little slower than you normally would. This is not a time you want to be making unintended trips to the doctor. If you have been on the sidelines of the ebike movement, now may be a good time to see what it’s all about. Some of the biggest grins we have ever seen are on the faces of people who just rode their first ebike.