Psycle Therapy in East Amherst, NY
Does Cycling Improve Your Brain and Mental Health?
Most fitness professionals would recommend cycling for its health benefits, but new research has shown that not only does cycling help improve your physical health but your brain and mental health as well. By helping your body to release certain chemicals and rewiring parts of the brain, cycling can help you keep up your brain health well into your retirement years.
Cycling for just 30 minutes can help you improve things like memory and reasoning, as well as benefitting your mental health and helping with depression and anxiety.
What does cycling do to the brain?
As a cardio exercise, cycling helps multiple muscles in the body by building more capillaries and improving the amount of oxygen being delivered to different parts of the body. This process also occurs in the brain. Cycling on a regular basis will expand the cardiovascular system into the brain which will help it receive more oxygen and nutrients.
The brain will also increase the production of certain proteins that help it to build new cells. Cycling may help your brain to double new cell production. The different parts of your brain will also communicate with each other more effectively as neurotransmitter activity increases, which will help improve your cognitive abilities.
Cycling will also fight against the aging of your brain. Research has shown that people in their 60’s-70’s who actively participated in physical activities have brains that look younger than people who did not participate in physical activities.
How can cycling improve mental health?
A study conducted in 2015 showed that aerobic exercise (such as cycling) increased levels of anandamide, a natural cannabinoid, in the blood. This may contribute to the so called ‘cyclist’s high,’ because cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system to boost your mood.
Cycling and other exercises are also known to increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are the hormones that makes us happy. Therefore, regular cycling can help to prevent and combat depression. People with and without mental illnesses can also benefit from the improvement of self-esteem.
Regular exercise also helps our body regulate other hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can help us deal with stress more effectively and reduce anxiety.
Cycling helps combat some diseases and disorders.
While there isn’t too much research to back it up, cycling has been known to help with the symptoms and effects of ADHD. Many people with the disorder attest to this. Research has shown that the brains of kids who were diagnosed with ADHD functioned similar to kids without ADHD after participating in aerobic exercises, which further helps cement the theory.
Cycling has also been shown to have a positive impact on those with Parkinson’s disease. While it doesn’t completely cure the disease, it does help with the symptoms and effects. Researchers believe this happens because physical activities activate the same parts of the brain that medications do. Cycling also helps the gray matter of the brain make more connections, which can also help reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Who can take part in cycling?
Just about anyone can make cycling into a workout routine. It’s especially good for those who have arthritis in their lower joints, because it is a low impact exercise. It will also help you build your leg muscles, which may reduce arthritis pain by adding support to your joints.
It’s also a great addition to any cardio workout routine for those who are looking to lose weight, reduce their blood pressure, or help with diabetes.
Putting together a cycling routine
There are different options when it comes to choosing how you’ll get your cycling in. You can bike outdoors, either on a road, bike path, or mountain trail. Or you can bike indoors with a machine or a stand for your outdoor bike.
Beginners should typically stick with flat terrain, like a bike path. But if you’re a more intense cyclist, you can choose to take on a mountain trail to make your cycling into more of a whole body workout.
You should typically bike somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes 3-5 days per week. You should also start with a warm up and end with a cool down that is a slower speed than your typical cycling pace.