In the U.S. alone it is estimated that at least 40 million people are mountain bikers. Clearly, everyone is now seeing the health benefits of mountain biking; for example, it helps lower blood pressure and gives you better and high-quality sleep.
Besides, it helps in weight loss, reduces stress, and helps you meet new friends. If more people could embrace mountain biking, we could have fewer deaths linked to diabetes and obesity. The risk of heart disease could also decrease.
Moreover, mountain biking is a great social activity that isn’t age-related. So, whether you’re a teen, a young adult, or an elderly in his seventies, mountain biking will improve your physical health and mental well-being.
You better get your bike ready because, by the end of this article, the only thing you’ll want to do is hop on it and RIDE!
Let’s kick start.
Health Benefits Of Mountain Biking
The NHS recommends that we all exercise weekly for about 150 minutes to live longer and in good health. However, the type of exercise you pick could have more or fewer health benefits.
If, for example, you only do upper body exercises at home, the lower body parts might grow weaker. Hence, there’s a need for a full-body workout.
Mountain biking engages every part of you, including the brain, offering incredible mental health benefits! Sounds weird. I know! This will be a learning curve for you, buddy. I promise.
Without further ado, let’s head on to the physical benefits of mountain biking.
Boosts Cardiovascular Health
Mountain biking offers excellent resistance, especially when pedaling on high hills. The harder it becomes to climb through the hills, the better because more resistance aids blood flow and increases muscle activity. Consequently, your cardiovascular fitness levels increase.
So, mountain climbing is one of the aerobic exercises that increases the heart rate.
The higher the heart rate, the higher the oxygen demand; hence, the body must pump more blood to ensure blood reaches all body parts, including the body muscles. In addition, nutrients get delivered to all the cells, improving overall health.
The cardiac functions well if there’s a higher demand on the heart and blood vessels. For example, the resting heart rate and the quantity of blood pumped per beat (stroke volume) increase.
Low-Stress Levels and Better Mental Health
One of the health benefits of mountain biking is lowering stress and giving you better mental health.
Staying indoors while a thousand thoughts are running through your mind could result in chronic ulcers, depression, and diabetes, among others. So, the best you could do for yourself is hop on your bike and hit the trail.
Firstly, mountain climbing exposes you to natural features and new friends, an excellent way to help you forget every bad thing that makes you stressed. The animals you encounter, chats with your newfound friends, and mountain climbing encounters all help release endorphins.
This hormone improves your mood, relieves pain, and decreases stress levels. Therefore, get out and have fun.
Improved Muscle Strength and Endurance
Mountain biking engages various muscles. For example, some upper body muscles, including the shoulders, arms, and back, are highly involved in downhill mountain biking or peddling steep hills.
The leg muscles, such as glutes, calves, quads, and hamstrings, are also actively engaged.
Therefore, your knee, lower back, and hip joints become less susceptible to injuries. So, getting to more challenging terrain each time you ride your bike is better.
More large muscle groups must work together for excellent balance and control when riding the bike. Consequently, your muscle strength and endurance improve.
Self-esteem in most people can be lower due to factors such as living an isolated life, being overweight, or not getting involved in challenging activities such as mountain biking.
Thankfully, when engaging in this outdoor physical activity, you lose excessive weight, socialize, and gain more skill when conquering tough terrain. It’s a great way to boost your self-esteem.
According to a study undertaken by a researcher known as Steve Taylor, people who regularly engage in outdoor activities, for example mountain biking, have more confidence and high self-esteem, unlike those who don’t.
As you master the new skills of balancing and controlling your bike on steep hills, you begin to believe in yourself, which gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Technical sections and highly challenging trails need high skill to ride through. You must think critically to figure out how to ride successfully without hurting yourself.
Completing such tough rides also makes you happy, which helps your brain release a neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Hence, you feel good and satisfied.
Besides, your skill level and abilities improve as you finish tougher rides.
Excellent Balancing and Coordination Skills
Balancing and coordination are excellent skills you should have to conquer rough terrain and unpredictable riding environments. Keeping your bike well-balanced on rough terrain is tricky and requires excellent coordination to minimize the risk of injury.
You must stay focused, coordinate your body effectively, and constantly adjust to stay stable when mountain biking. The benefits of mountain biking and regular exercise are backed up by a study done and published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.
Besides, since there has to be perfect coordination between the leg and core muscles, vestibular system, eyes, and the proprioceptors in the muscles and joints, your motor response heightens, and there’s better sensory input coordination.
Better Sleep and Night Rest
Recently, I noticed that I couldn’t sleep well on Saturday nights, yet I needed to be in church early on Sundays. I tried drinking a cup of milk and eating heavy meals just before bed (a bad and unhealthy idea!), but none worked.
This went on for several weeks until I decided to get involved heavily in outdoor activities.
This made me very exhausted. Hence, my body needed rest whenever I got back home, and that also made it possible to fall asleep a few minutes after laying on my bed! The headaches and fatigue caused by lack of undisrupted quality sleep ceased. I was now able to stay focused throughout the day. Problem solved!
Therefore, if you want to improve your sleep quality, start mountain climbing. You’ll start having consistent night sleep patterns because your body will need rest, and your mind will be well relaxed due to the release of endorphins, the feel-happy hormones!
A healthy weight is linked to good health. Hence, losing healthy weight is crucial as it helps improve your heart health, lowering the risk of coronary heart disease. Other health benefits of mountain biking include lowering the chances of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and other obesity-related diseases.
Many factors determine how many calories you can burn in 30 minutes of biking, for example, the pace, weight, and terrain conditions. However, moderately biking for at least 30 minutes could help burn at least 300 calories.
More Social Connections
I lived alone for about 3 years. I hardly had any social connections; hence, no one ever visited me, nor did I ever visit people. While having ‘your own space’ sounds great sometimes, the damage stress can do to you if you have no social connections is enormous!
Mountain biking can help build strong friendships, giving you many social benefits when in crisis.
The former Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy, said that weak social connections and loneliness are linked to a short lifespan. So, you better get out and build more social connections while mountain biking.
Great social connections improve happiness, which is connected to good health, better sleep, and high productivity in place of work.
After spending considerable time riding your bike on steep hills, you get thirsty and hungry fast; hence, your appetite shoots. So, eating a great post-ride meal increases your energy levels. You can also freeze pineapple juice and take it when riding on uneven terrain.
Better still, take cactus water as it has more benefits.
Thankfully, the more you bike, the more calories you burn. So, eating a little more won’t be of any harm.
Bonds With Nature
City life can be stressful due to the noise from people and vehicles, and that’s why most people hate road cycling.
Also known as green exercise, mountain biking is a great form of exercise that allows you to experience great calmness and happiness as you get more creative.
If you have no idea of the best thing to do instead of being indoors all day, consider going into the natural environments to view the beautiful scenery. You’ll see its positive impact on you after a couple of days.
We cannot ignore the numerous health benefits of mountain biking, for example, reduced stress, improved sleep, new connections, better health, and bonding with nature.
Other benefits of mountain biking include improved appetite, loss of weight, higher self-esteem and increased muscle strength and endurance, better mental and cardiovascular health, and excellent balancing and coordination skills.
Start a mountain bike ride today and enjoy the health benefits of physical exercise and regular cycling moving forward.