Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Electric bikes may give the same brain boost as pedal-powered bikes do to older people, a new study says.
Cyclists using e-bikes between ages of 50 and 83 got better cognitive and mental health benefits than on pedal bikes, according to a study published on Wednesday in PLOS.
"It is really encouraging that this research suggests older adults' cognitive function (particularly what we call 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," Louise-Ann Leyland, a researcher at University College London and study author, said in a news release.
For the study, some cyclists rode the e-bikes three times a week for 30 minutes over eight weeks. Other participants rode pedal-powered bikes
"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," Leyland said. "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."
The cyclists on the e-bikes spent 28 percent of their rides in the lowest setting -- eco -- and 15 percent with the motor turned off, the researchers say.
The researchers also say that riding the e-bikes, even without physical exertion, likely put the cyclists in a better mood.
"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," said Carien Van Reekum, a professor of psychology at the University of Reading.
"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."