We all know that biking is fantastic for your body. It is physical activity, after all. It helps you to burn fat, improve cardio health, build muscles and can even assist in preventing the onset of disease. But, let’s move on from the obvious. Biking, believe it or not, is essentially a health tonic for your mind. When you bike on the regular, so many wonderful things happen to your brain. Here are just a few:
Boost self-esteem: The intensity and duration of your bike ride doesn’t seem to matter. The simple act of exercising, like a gentle bike ride, can make you feel absolutely-on-top-of-the-world great about yourself. As much as we’d like to deny it, our own self-esteem hugely affects how happy we are in most aspects of our lives. Biking is not only exercise, but an accomplishment—a small success in a long day of busyness. Every success you have boosts self-esteem, so bag a quick bike ride to keep your self-love high! When you feel confident in your body, mind and spirit, everything begins to fall into place.
Thwart depression: When exercising becomes a part of your day-to-day life, your mood gets hit with the cheery effects. Those with active lifestyles have reported better moods and generally more positive life outlooks than those who do not incorporate physical activity into their day-to-day. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that adults who partook in high levels of physical activity were less likely to suffer from clinical depression in later years. Physical activity, like biking, is also widely considered an effective and healthy technique for managing current depression symptoms. Talk to your doctor for more information about incorporating physical activity into your regimen.
Reduce stress: Exercising outside can lead to greater feelings of relaxation and revitalization than exercising indoors. Pedaling to the local market is tantamount to a soothing meditation for your stressed out mind. Plus, if you’re sitting at the computer all day, getting outside is just an additional tonic to quench your technology-weary brain. Try ditching the indoor gym and planning a ride after work on really long days, and notice how much more relaxed and energized you feel.
Keep active: Not your body—your mind. Physical activity boosts blood flow to the brain, helping to construct new connections and synapses that sitting in a seat can never do. Biking takes you outdoors to new environments and new situations and new people, all of which stimulate your mind more so than staying shut inside of a car. The decision-making and quick thinking required when biking can even help improve your memory and stave off Alzheimer’s disease. If you tend towards a crossword puzzle or Luminosity to exercise your brain, try biking to radically improve your day-to-day cognitive function.
Tantalized at the thought of hopping on your bike now? If nothing else, bike commuting keeps you from sitting in soul-sucking commuter’s traffic. Would you rather be gulping fresh, crisp air while rolling fast or be sitting in a tight, claustrophobic box? Not much competition there. It’s time to dust off those handlebars and hit the pavement.