Riding a bicycle. This is something you may have learned as a kid or picked up as a hobby as an adult. However you may have started, that exhilarating rush of balancing on two wheels remains the same throughout the years, and I can personally attest to that. I have been mountain biking for years and to this day, those feelings of excitement and freedom are still there—allowing me to continuously enjoy this activity. My passion for biking has undeniably had positive effects on my health; physically and mentally, and I would love for you to experience this as well.
Here are seven personal benefits of mountain biking to further encourage you to do it regularly:
Physical Benefits of Mountain Biking
Although it may seem that your calves get worked out the most, you may not realize how much your entire body benefits from biking. A great overall physical workout, you improve not only calf muscle strength but your upper body and core strength as well. You also use your joints, keeping them working better for much longer, potentially lowering the risks of arthritis. Because it is an overall body workout, biking helps maintain the health of your circulatory system and reduces the risks of major diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer!
Improved Balance, Coordination, and Concentration
It is said that once you learn how to bike, you never forget how to. Being the motor memory that it is, the body develops and remembers muscular coordination required to propel you forward. Despite possibly feeling habitual, this coordination stimulates your mind to tap into that learned muscle coordination. Over time and with regular practice, your balance improves and so does your concentration. You focus on where and how fast you’re going, keeping you alert and engaged in your outdoor adventure.
Japanese researchers show how “forest bathing” or immersing yourself in nature helps reduce stress and improves relaxation. When you’re out on biking trails, the personal benefits of mountain biking include getting you in touch with the beauty of nature. Take time to pull yourself away from your daily stressors, hop on your bike, pedal out of town, and breathe in some fresh air.
How Biking Affects You Mentally
You know how those rocks and roots and whatnot get in your way while biking, but you soldier on so you don’t lose balance? Biking gives you an “I can do it” attitude that pushes you to conquer those biking trails! While balancing and feeling the wind on your face, you almost feel weightless—giving you that sense of freedom and power to achieve what you set your mind to. Biking elevates your mood with a rush of endorphins or “happy hormones” from the physical exercise, weightless feeling, and the beauty of the scenery around you.
It may, at some point, hurt, but after any uphill climb, your reward is that smooth sailing bike down the trail. That accomplishment also serves as motivation to do it again, and perhaps conquer greater distances or more difficult biking trails.
Better Quality Sleep
Exercise in general helps improve the quality of sleep you get. Coupled with the feeling of tiring out your body after an hour or two of biking, you will naturally feel inclined to sleep and get much needed rest. The combination of these factors contribute to deeper unbroken sleep. Consider biking early in the morning to get some early sun which is great for vitamin D production that in turn stimulates melatonin production, ultimately improving your body’s ability to regulate healthy sleeping patterns.
Mountain Biking as a Social Outdoor Adventure
Being with like-minded individuals helps people stick to routines better. With that sense of belonging and accountability from your mountain biking peers, another great personal benefit of mountain biking is being able to engage in a social outdoor adventure. After all, some trails are safer to go through with some friends. Widening your circle and forming healthy social relationships and interactions contribute to a lasting feeling of happiness and wellbeing.
Lessons from Biking
As light and careless as you may feel while biking, you will also experience growth and strength—not just physically but mentally and socially as well. Biking presents you with new opportunities to stimulate your senses and enjoy your surroundings while simultaneously improving your focus, concentration, and mindfulness. Being present in the moment. You learn that though some trails are hard, you can do it, and that you don’t have to do it alone. The discipline of getting up in the morning or biking before night falls contributes to your sense of purpose as an individual and as a part of a group.
When taken not just as a physical activity, one may see that the personal benefits of mountain biking can be truly life changing.