Cycling has all sorts of benefits outside of increasing your physical strength and looking really cool. Here are some other major benefits that you may not have known.
Emotional Benefits – According to Bicycling Magazine, a recent study analyzing 26 years of research found that as little as 20-30 minutes of exercise per day can help prevent depression. A good ride can have emotional benefits including feeling better, relieve anxiety, and increase stress resistance.
Decreasing Stress - A 2013 study by Ida and colleagues published in BioPsychoSocial Medicine found that after 15 minutes of pedaling a stationary bike participants levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, declined significantly.
Memory and Reasoning – The Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research published a study in 2013 by Nanda and colleagues which found that participants scored higher on memory, reasoning, and planning tests after 30 minutes of moderately intense spinning on a stationary bike than before they rode.
Aging Benefits – Chapman and associates published an article in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience in 2013 that took participants ages 57-75 through a physical training program that included using an exercise bike three times per week. They found that benefits begin to show before the 6-month mark in maintaining adequate blood flow to the brain. They conclude starting aerobic exercise sooner is better since the slope of decline in brain health become steeper from age 50 onward.
Get Outside – In a 2014 study published in Frontiers in Psychology, Pearson and Craig found that spending time in nature can reduce stress and decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Cycling in the great outdoors and in natural surroundings will increase these benefits. In fact, there is also evidence that exercising outside will increase enjoyment of and motivation to maintain an exercise program.
Prescription for Happiness – Bicycling Magazine recommends the following based on a recent review study on exercise and depression: 3 - 5 (45 - 60 minute) sessions per week, keeping your target heart rate between 50 - 85% of your maximum.
You don’t have to take these researchers’ words for it. Grab a bike and go for a ride to discover your own benefits to riding!