PURPOSE: Electric bicycles (e-bikes) may offer an opportunity to stimulate physical activity among older adults. The current study compared Flemish (Belgian) older e-bike users with those not using an e-bike on sociodemographics, health characteristics, and access to motorized transport. In addition, it examined the association between e-bike use and levels of cycling and the moderating effects of sex, body mass index (BMI), and cycling limitations.
METHODS: An online or interview version of the same questionnaire was completed by 1146 participants. Data were analyzed using logistic regression and hurdle models.
RESULTS: Women, those with a higher BMI, and those with one (compared with no) motorized vehicle in the household had higher odds of being an e-bike user. E-bike use was related to higher odds of having cycled for transport in the past week, and this relationship was stronger among those with a higher BMI (low BMI: odds ratio, 1.89; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.24-2.91; high BMI: odds ratio, 3.34; 95% CI, 2.26-5.00). Among those who cycled for transport in the last week, e-bike use was associated with 35% more minutes of cycling for transport (95% CI, 17%-56%). E-bike use was related to 183% higher odds of having biked for recreation (95% CI, 115%-274%). Among women and those with cycling limitations who cycled for recreation in the last week, e-bike use was also related to 57% (95% CI, 18%-109%) and 180% (95% CI, 63%-381%) more minutes of cycling for recreation, respectively.
CONCLUSION: E-bikes may provide an opportunity to promote cycling among older adults, particularly among subgroups at risk for physical inactivity.