Mountain biking is an exercise that benefits not only physical health but also foster positive mental health. When people go out into nature to mountain bike, they feel a deep connection with the landscapes they experience. The joy of mountain biking lies not only in the adrenaline rush it creates but also in the sense of unity with the natural world.
Shawn Grzybowski, an avid mountain biker, shares his experiences with the sport and details how anyone can enjoy its benefits for greater physical and mental health.
Unlike running, mountain biking is a form of full-body exercise. Both the upper body and lower body muscles are worked through mountain biking. It is excellent for building lean muscle mass throughout the body. Strenuous uphill passages bring not only physical satisfaction but also the rush of adrenaline which produces a “runner’s high.” When this feeling dissipates, it greatly increases the calm and spiritual connection a mountain biker feels.
Less Strain on the Joints
When compared to running, mountain biking produces much less strain on the joints. Repetitive use injuries are less likely with mountain biking than with running, leaving less time for injury recovery. Anyone can learn to mountain bike, where people with less than ideal physical health may have trouble beginning the sport of running.
Like any physical exercise, mountain biking has a positive impact on heart health. It builds endurance and causes people to have longer and healthier lives.
Any kind of exercise, when done regularly, increases the body’s natural immunity. The University of North Carolina found that bikers who ride 5 days a week for 30 minutes only take half of the sick days compared to the general population. Regular exercise also helps to prevent cancer and other diseases.
Better Mental Acuity
People who exercise more often experience benefits to their mental abilities. Oxygen and blood flow are increased, helping the brain perform its jobs more efficiently. Many people who exercise report that they feel sharper and more creative both while they are exercising and afterward. This is a significant benefit for the person who engages in regular exercise.
Coordination and Balance
Mountain biking takes a great deal of balance and coordination. This gives it a major benefit when compared with “flatter” forms of exercise like running on a treadmill. The entire body needs to work together to ensure a biker’s balance on mountain trails. This is a good way to build physical and mental acuity.
People who exercise regularly have better sleep quality than those who do not. Exercise causes a drop in cortisol, the “stress hormone” that keeps us awake. Mountain biking also enables a person to clear their mind, having a deeper spiritual connection with themselves and a better understanding of their own lives. This can help to calm the mind and drop off to sleep more easily. One caution is to make sure that strenuous rides happen early in the day so that the adrenaline does not keep riders awake.
Greater Social Experience
Many people who enjoy mountain biking do so in a club or group setting. Bonding together with a group while exercising is a perfect way to build social bonds. A better sense of connection with others has both physical and mental benefits.
Reduction in Stress
Similar to how mountain biking creates better sleep, it also helps to reduce the overall level of stress in the body. The physical activity, combined with getting out in nature, gives people a calm and centered mind. When people mountain bike, they are able to connect both with nature and with themselves.
Mountain biking provides a vigorous form of exercise that anyone can try. A bike, a helmet, and a trail are the only needed equipment. Mountain biking has dozens of documented health benefits, and also confers positive mental health. Shawn Grzybowski hopes that readers will try mountain biking for themselves and take advantage of these benefits for themselves.