Anybody who regularly spends time in the saddle will know that a few miles on your bike always lifts your mood and makes you feel better (errant drivers aside) – but why? Well research has shown that not only is cycling freaking awesome but can also improve memory, reasoning and planning as well as providing a huge boost to your mental health.
A cerebral work out
Did you know that cycling can grow your brain just like weight lifting can grow your muscles? Cycling increases blood flow to your brain which in turn builds more capillaries and ultimately supplies more nutrients, blood and oxygen to your noggin that can improve its performance. Sudoku anyone?
Cycling also makes your body produce more proteins, which you use to create new brain cells. Regular pedalling can double or even triple new cell production in the brain. If that wasn’t enough, regular jaunts on your wheels of steel increases neurotransmitter activity which improves cognitive abilities. The Times crossword will be easy peasy lemon squeezy after a cheeky cycle!
The plethora of benefits you get from cycling are even more profound for those of us who are no longer spring chickens. The science stuff we’ve talked about can counteract the natural decline of brain function as we age. We can’t promise you’ll no longer walk into a room and have no idea why you’re there but scientists did compare the brains of adults in their 60’s and 70’s and found that the brains of those who exercise regularly appeared younger than those who don’t.
You must have been living under a rock if you’ve not heard of this ‘mindfullness’ malarkey – but what does it actually mean? Well it’s about taking time out and focussing on the here and now – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you. Well cycling is the ultimate ‘mindfulness’ activity, concentrating on the here and now (and that lorry that just passed by too closely) and appreciating the scenery.
The pressures of modern life