Have you ever noticed how much happier and mentally alert you feel after riding your bike? Now there’s scientific evidence that supports the theory that a bike ride can boost your mood, lower depression, improve your health and boost your mental focus.
Bicycling is a great form of daily exercise that is easy to integrate into your lifestyle. It’s family-friendly, doesn’t produce pollution and an enjoyable way to travel. In study after study, scientists have documented unexpected benefits of cycling. Here are 5 ways bicycling improves your quality of life.
1. Cycling makes you smarter
Studies have shown that a 30-minute bike riding session improves memory, reasoning and planning. The time spent pedaling your bicycle pumps more blood through your body, supplying your brain and muscles with more oxygen and nutrients. Pedaling causes more nerve cells to fire and intensifies the creation of proteins that promote the formation of new brain cells. This can double or triple the production of neurons, which literally build your brain. The exercise also causes your neurotransmitters to release so all your cells can communicate better and increases brain functioning.
2. Cycling relieves stress
There have been multiple studies that link bicycling to a better mood. One study focused on people with depression that were being treated with antidepressants. After cycling for just 15 minutes, their level of cortisol, a stress hormone, decreased. The volunteers in the study reported their mood improved after their cycling session.
One of the benefits of cycling is that it improves the production of mood-enhancers like serotonin and dopamine. Other mood-lifting chemicals like endorphins and cannabinoids are released after 20 – 30 minutes of pedaling.
3. Cycling makes you healthier
Bicycling can have positive effects on cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There is also research that biking may prevent cancer and help cancer patients. Most of the studies show significant improvement after cyclists rode 30 minutes or less at moderate intensity. And the results were consistent whether they were riding outside or indoors (think spin class).
4. Cycling helps manage weight
Riding your bicycle is an aerobic exercise, the kind you need to burn calories and lose weight. Cycling raises your heart rate and reduce your total body mass. Riding your bike will help you get rid of excess body fat when combined with a healthy diet. Cycling is often recommended for weight loss because it is a low-impact aerobic exercise, and is easier on your joints than running. The low-impact aspect and slower pace makes it easier for most people to follow a regular exercise routine. Furthermore, bicycle riding helps build muscle, which improves your metabolism and helps you burn fat even after you finish your bicycle riding session.
5. Cycling helps you sleep better
Regular, deep sleep is fundamental for quality of life and happiness. In a study conducted by Stanford University, researchers found that 20-30 minutes of cycling daily helps people diagnosed with insomnia disorders fall asleep faster and sleep longer. Exercising outside exposes people to daylight, which can help get their circadian rhythm back in sync. Cycling is also a great way to release cortisol, a hormone that can prevent deep, regenerative sleep.
Riding your bicycle promotes a healthier, happier, smarter life. People who cycle are more likely to be fit and less likely to be overweight. Alongside physiological and emotional benefits, regular bike riding can help you build confidence, get fit and meet your exercise goals. Cycling will help you take your mind off your worries, increase social interactions with other, like-minded cyclists and help you feel more in control of your life. What other reasons do you need to hop on your bike and get riding?
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