8 Healthy Benefits of Mountain Biking

Mountain biking has physical, emotional and social benefits

The benefits of mountain biking go beyond "fun."
The benefits of mountain biking go beyond "fun.". ©Beth Puliti

Wait, mountain biking is actually good for you? As in good for your health? Of course, it is! Want proof? There's a reason everyone from pre-schoolers to former presidents and school-aged children to cycling legends have fallen in love with riding their bike off-road. In addition to being fun, mountain biking offers physical, emotional and social benefits to those who partake. 

1. It decreases disease.

 Though you may encounter a few bumps and bruises along the way, mountain biking helps more than it harms. According to Peopleforbikes.org, three hours of biking per week decreases your chance of heart disease and stroke by 50 percent. A study in the European Journal of Epidemiology found that women who bike more than 30 minutes each day have a reduced risk of breast cancer. Furthermore, teenagers who bike are 48 percent less likely to be overweight in adulthood.

2. It keeps your heart healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. This type of exercise must be rigorous enough for a person to break a sweat and raise their heart rate. I think it's safe to say that mountain biking counts toward the CDC's weekly guidelines!

3. It's easier on your joints. Mountain biking proves to be an ideal alternative for the growing number of older Americans who may be suffering from knee injuries after years of high-impact sports, such as running.

The sport offers similar cardiovascular benefits to running, but without the impact on your joints. Former president George W. Bush took up mountain biking after a knee injury put an end to his running regimen.

4. It decreases stress. In addition to the myriad physical benefits of mountain biking, the sport also plays an important role in participants' emotional well-being.

According to a 2007 study by Dr. Andrew Lepp at Kent State University, outdoor activities decrease stress, raise self-esteem and provide people with a sense of challenge and adventure.

5. It makes you happy. The Mayo Clinic notes that exercise helps stave off depression by releasing endorphins (brain chemicals that trigger a euphoric high). Physical activity also decreases the immune system chemicals that make depression worse. And that, my fellow mountain bikers, is why you typically end a ride happier than you started. Unless, of course, you find yourself unprepared on the trail. (Find out the essential items you need to bring with you on a mountain bike ride.)

6. It offers a temporary escape from reality. Exercise, in general, helps decrease anxiety and improve mood. Mountain biking acts as a distraction and helps riders to temporarily take their mind off of any worries. This escape from reality breaks the cycle of negative thoughts that contribute to anxiety.

7. It helps you meet new friends. There are plenty of opportunities for interaction in this sport, whether you join your local cycling club, sign up for a mountain bike race or bump into other riders at the trailhead. Pleasant social interaction can improve your mood and provide you with the opportunity to make new friends--or at the very least, new riding buddies.

And riding with others is not only enjoyable, it's safer. 

8. It boosts self-confidence. Whether you rode over your first log, mastered that technical descent or cleared a particularly gnarly rock garden, meeting mountain biking challenges that you have set for yourself can give your self-confidence a major boost. Improving your stamina and becoming more physically fit will help you feel good about your outer appearance, too.

Hop on your steed and search for the nearest singletrack, because you have no excuse not to now!

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Puliti, Beth. "8 Healthy Benefits of Mountain Biking." ThoughtCo, Apr. 29, 2017, thoughtco.com/health-benefits-of-mountain-biking-2403528. Puliti, Beth. (2017, April 29). 8 Healthy Benefits of Mountain Biking. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/health-benefits-of-mountain-biking-2403528 Puliti, Beth. "8 Healthy Benefits of Mountain Biking." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/health-benefits-of-mountain-biking-2403528 (accessed November 19, 2017).