Your Brain on Cycling

Cycling for Sanity

In 2015, a new study showed the brain boosting benefits of cycling. Charlotte Hilton Andersen explores several new studies that have found that cycling improves the way your brain works by making several important structures bigger so you can think faster, remember more, and feel happier in Shape.com's The Brain Science of Biking

You'll not only feel mentally better after a ride, but you'll actually be smarter. Biking, along with other types of aerobic exercise, has been shown to increase the hippocampus, one of several brain structures related to memory and learning. A study from the University of Illinois found that the hippocampus of participants grew two percent and improved their memory and problem solving skills by 15 to 20 percent after six months of cycling daily. Additionally, the cyclists reported a greater ability to focus and an improved attention span. To top it off, all of these perks seem to counteract the loss of brain function normally associated with aging, with the scientists noting that the cyclists' brains appeared two years younger than their non-exercising peers.

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You + Biking = Happiness

Vancouver based Momentum Mag featured an article on seven mental health benefits of bike riding. Author Hillary Angus explores the impact of cycling on mental, as well as physical, health in her article - Pedaling Towards Happiness: 7 Mental Health Benefits of Riding Bikes.

Photo by  Clem Onojeghuo  

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo 

... The link between exercise and improved mental health is not new, many studies over the years have made the connection the two. But as the body of research grows, it becomes clear that regular exercise – especially physical activity outdoors – should not simply be a supplementary method to improve our mood, but a key part of any strategy to combat depression, anxiety, and the general stress of daily life.

While some people ride to get fit, there are many who ride bikes simply because it makes them happy, and happiness is not trivial. How you feel about yourself, your life, and the world is just as important as the mechanical workings of your body. In fact, science suggests that mental health may even be a stronger predictor of life expectancy than physical health, or even heavy smoking.

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Pedal Powered Memory

Psychology Today posted an amazing article discussing the benefits of bike riding on cognitive health and well-being. Author Lindsay Wasmer Andrews explores recent scientific studies that highlight the emotional health benefits of cycling. 

Photo by Max Bender

... Aerobic exercise is good for the brain in other ways as well. For instance, it helps maintain adequate blood flow to the brain, which supplies the metabolically rapacious organ with a steady stream of oxygen and nutrients. This may be one reason why regular physical activity helps keep thinking, learning and judgment sharp as people age.

But you don’t have to wait for your AARP card to reap these rewards. Even younger adults often claim that a bike ride helps shift their thinking into high gear — and research backs them up. In one small study, healthy, young men pedaled a stationary bike at moderate intensity for 30 minutes. They also completed a series of cognitive tests before and afterward. After cycling, they scored higher on memory, reasoning and planning, and they were able to finish the tests more rapidly than before.

See the full article here