Over the last few decades, mountain biking has remained a popular outdoor recreational activity.
According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, over 5 million people mountain bike every year in the UK.
As public health concerns including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are on the rise, physical exercise, especially in the outdoors, is becoming more critical to our health as individuals and as a society.
Mountain biking is a fun and exciting way to enjoy the many health benefits of regular fitness and cardiovascular exercise including:
Reduced Stress and Improved Mood
The vigorous demands of mountain biking stimulate your body to release natural endorphin’s, which are the body’s way of feeling good and getting more energy.
Exercise also boosts serotonin, an important neurotransmitter in the brain which helps to prevent depression and anxiety.
The focus and attention needed to ride a challenging single-track can become a form of moving meditation; ultimately helping to relax and weather life’s stressors by acting as a distraction from negative thoughts that may contribute to anxiety and depression.
Gaining new skills and improving your mountain biking abilities also helps to build confidence and self-esteem.
Cycling on a flat paved road is where the saying “it’s just like riding a bike” comes from.
Mountain biking provides ever changing roads, routes and conditions that your body has to constantly adjust to.
Riding over the various bumps, dips, hills, drops, and turns forces takes balance which improves over time.
While improved balance may not seem that beneficial. It translates well into your everyday life because who wants to trip or slip am I right?
That guy is a moron.
Builds a Better Brain
University of Pittsburgh study discovered that through mountain bike riding, people improved the memory capacity and performed nearly 20% better on memory tests as riding increased the size of the hippocampi.
Additional studies find that mountain biking helps older adults to exhibit higher levels of cognitive functionality which should help to avoid degenerative processes such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Whole Body Workout
It’s no doubt you’ll recognize the defined calf muscles of an avid cyclist, but you may not realize that mountain biking uses the muscles of your whole body.
Of course, cycling builds strong legs, thighs and calves and helps you get that nice tight butt.
The balance required to stay upright strengthens your abdominal and core muscles.
Climbing and maneuvering turns also strengthens your upper body.
And as an added bonus, mountain biking doesn’t require an expensive gym membership or a personal trainer to get a good workout.
While running and mountain biking both burn calories, mountain biking preserves your joints.
Running provides constant stress on your joints with each jolting step further causing impact inherently reducing risk of injury.
Biking provides a smooth pedal where the motion only revolves in fluid circles.
If you are still recovering from a sprained joint, ligament or tendon, mountain biking provides a style where you can start to get back in shape.
You may immediately feel tired and worn out after a ride. But it will ultimately lead to improved regenerative sleep when you need it at night.
The exercise of riding decreases cortisol, a hormone that keeps us awake.
Being an outdoor activity, mountain biking exposes you to daylight which helps to maintain the body’s natural circadian sleep/wake cycle, not to mention raising your body’s production of vitamin D.
Make sure you avoid vigorous rides too late in the day, which can have the opposite effect of releasing stimulating endorphins that can keep you awake.
The newer field of happiness psychology has shown that healthy relationships and social interactions are key to being happy and finding meaning in life.
Mountain biking is often a social activity shared by clubs and groups who get out to ride together.
It provides a perfect opportunity to build personal bonds and make new friends with people who enjoy the same activities that you do.
Raises Heart Health
Mountain biking increases the speed that blood flows through your system pumping oxygen through your body more efficiently lowering your overall heart rate.
Your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to produce the same results.
This lowers your chance of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
According to the British Heart Foundation, 10,000 heart attacks could be avoided each year with a little more exercise.
Decreased Risk of Diseases
Regular moderate exercise is known to strengthen your immune system and keep you healthy.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that people who cycle for 30 minutes, 5 days a week take half as many sick days off work compared to their sedentary counterparts!
Another study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology reported that women who exercised regularly, including cycling to work, reduced their incidence of breast cancer.
This builds off creating better heart health. As the blood more quickly and effectively travels through your body, it raises your circulation.
By replenishing more oxygen and nutrients to all your cells it also eradicates toxins faster it increases collagen production.
This chemical is important for the healing process and stopping wrinkling. Now you not only feel good, you look good too.
Hop on your bike and search for the nearest single track, because you have no excuse not to now!