Mental Benefits of Cycling

It's no secret that cycling makes you fitter. It also sharpens your thinking and melts away stress. Now researchers are discovering why—and exactly how you can maximize the cognitive benefits of a good ride.

 

Every morning Canadian neuroscientist Brian Christie, PhD, gives hisbrain an extra boost. We're not talking about tossing back multiple strong shots of espresso or playing one of those mind-training games advertised all over Facebook.

"I hop on my bike, go to the gym for 45 minutes, then ride the rest of the way to work," says Christie. "When I get to my desk, my brain is at peak activity for a few hours." After his mental focus sputters to a halt later in the day, he jump-starts it with another short spin to run errands.

Ride, work, ride, repeat. It's a scientifically proven system. In a recent study in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, scientists found that people scored higher on tests of memory, reasoning, and planning after 30 minutes of spinning on a stationary bike than they did before they rode. They also completed the tests faster after pedaling.

Physical Health

Bike riding is one of the most effective ways to improve a person’s physical health. The activity is low impact and can be done by almost anyone, regardless of fitness.
Riding a bike can have many benefits, including weight loss and improvement in aerobic fitness leading to better overall health and reducing the chance of obesity.
The 2010 WA Wellness Report, produced by HBF revealed the following facts about the WA population:

• 10% of the State’s population is completely inactive
• 20% get less than the recommended thirty minutes of exercise per day
• 55% of the State's population is overweight or obese
• 35% said their daily stress levels were quite high or very high


Mental Health

As well as improving physical health, cycling has a positive affect on emotional health – improving levels of well-being, self-confidence and tolerance to stress while reducing tiredness, difficulties with sleep and a range of medical symptoms.
Increasing the physical, social and mental activity levels can help improve an individual’s mental health. Encouraging people to ride a bike gets them out of their homes or cars and interacting with the community.

 

Last modified on 09/07/2015
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