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14.06.2016 | Original Article | Ausgabe 8/2016

European Journal of Applied Physiology 8/2016

Pedelecs as a physically active transportation mode

European Journal of Applied Physiology > Ausgabe 8/2016
James E. Peterman, Kalee L. Morris, Rodger Kram, William C. Byrnes
Wichtige Hinweise
Communicated by Jean-René Lacour.



Pedelecs are bicycles that provide electric assistance only when a rider is pedaling and have become increasingly popular.


Our purpose was to quantify usage patterns over 4 weeks of real-world commuting with a pedelec and to determine if pedelec use would improve cardiometabolic risk factors.


Twenty sedentary commuters visited the laboratory for baseline physiological measurements [body composition, maximum oxygen consumption (\(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{ 2} { \hbox{max} }\)), mean arterial blood pressure (MAP), blood lipid profile, and 2-h oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)]. The following 4 weeks, participants were instructed to commute using a pedelec at least 3 days week−1 for 40 min day−1 while wearing a heart rate monitor and a GPS device. Metabolic equivalents (METS) were estimated from heart rate data. Following the intervention, we repeated the physiological measurements.


Average total distance and time were 317.9 ± 113.8 km and 15.9 ± 3.4 h, respectively. Participants averaged 4.9 ± 1.2 METS when riding. Four weeks of pedelec commuting significantly improved 2-h post-OGTT glucose (5.53 ± 1.18–5.03 ± 0.91 mmol L−1, p < 0.05), \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{ 2} { \hbox{max} }\) (2.21 ± 0.48–2.39 ± 0.52 L min−1, p < 0.05), and end of \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{ 2} { \hbox{max} }\) test power output (165.1 ± 37.1–189.3 ± 38.2 W, p < 0.05). There were trends for improvements in MAP (84.6 ± 10.5–83.2 ± 9.4 mmHg, p = 0.15) and fat mass (28.6 ± 11.3–28.2 ± 11.4 kg, p = 0.07).


Participants rode a pedelec in the real world at a self-selected moderate intensity, which helped them meet physical activity recommendations. Pedelec commuting also resulted in significant improvements in 2-h post-OGTT glucose, \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{ 2} { \hbox{max} }\), and power output. Pedelecs are an effective form of active transportation that can improve some cardiometabolic risk factors within only 4 weeks.

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