35 Benefits of Mountain Biking That Boost You Physically and Mentally
Thinking of mountain biking, you may get a specific picture in your mind of young adults, mainly men, racing downhill or doing what appear to be dangerous tricks. This is only a part of the sport. Mountain biking is enjoyed by people of every age and gender.
While the health benefits of downhill mountain biking may seem obvious, there are health benefits in every style and there are even mental benefits of mountain biking .
What might surprise some people is that there are social benefits of mountain biking that many may never have considered. Grab a drink and sit back to read about all the MTB benefits you can be experiencing by tomorrow.
What are the Health Benefits of Mountain Biking?
One of the most often used pieces of equipment in a gym is the stationary bike. People know this helps them with their physical goals but they still ask: Will mountain biking get me in shape?
The answer is a resounding "Yes!" In fact, there are more physical benefits to mountain biking than riding a pretend bicycle indoors.
1. Total body workout
The muscles used in mountain biking provide riders with a total body workout. Leg muscles are obviously getting a workout but arms and back muscles are also being worked.
Your heart, which is a large muscle is becoming stronger. It isn't just muscles that are getting a workout. Your brain and lungs gain benefits and all your internal organs benefit from the exercise.
There are very few exercise routines that help improve all aspects of the human body like mountain biking.
2. Get fit while having fun
Exercise routines can be boring. This is what causes many individuals to start missing workouts and eventually stopping them completely. Mountain biking is a great way to get fit in a fun manner.
You can vary the environment, vary the people you enjoy your activity with and modify your routine in a multitude of ways. Every time you mount your bike, you can seek a new adventure.
3. Tones muscles
Toned muscles require varied movement. You can lose weight, but if your muscles are not toned, you appear to be flabby and out of shape. Toned muscles help tighten skin, use less oxygen and make you feel more flexible.
The full body workout you receive from riding tones your muscles without causing you to look lumpy and uneven like other sports that only work a certain set of muscles. You won't only look healthy, you will feel healthy.
4. Strengthens heart and lungs
The heart and lungs are the most important organs of the human body. Mountain bike riding gives the rider a cardiovascular workout that strengthens both of these. This gives you a number of other advantages.
Your skin becomes clearer, you look younger, you feel more alert and all your body systems work better. When your heart and lungs are working at top performance level, your entire body gets the oxygen that it requires to renew itself on a regular basis. It also enables your body to fight off illness and heal any injuries quicker.
5. Easy on your joints.
Many physical activities create jarring and stress on your joints. This results in pain, and eventually things like arthritis. Riding a mountain bike is considered a low-impact activity.
Your joints are not subjected to inconsistent movement and are not subject to the stress of constant jarring like they are when you run on concrete.
The consistent motion your joints experience help keep them flexible, allowing you to stay flexible longer than many people do.
6. Increases brain power
One of the most unexpected benefits that people discover about mountain bike riding is the increased brain power that they experience. Part of this is due to the increased ability of your lungs to reach your brain.
As oxygen levels increase, the brain is able to work quicker, stay healthier and fight off many of the things that lead to strokes or dementia. In addition, riding helps clear your mind of problems, allowing you to feel a greater sense of peace.
This leads to a clearer look at things and an added ability to see solutions that may have been elusive. Finally, your mind becomes quicker at making decisions as you learn to navigate trails that may have debris that needs to be avoided.
7. Improves coordination and balance
Mountain biking helps improve coordination and balance as you need to learn to have hands, feet, and eyes all working together to keep your bike straight or make unexpected turns.
If you want to do tricks and jumps, your skill is even improved further as you look ahead to plan before you attempt your moves. Balance is essential when riding any bicycle but even more essential when you navigate uneven trails.
The risks of mountain biking, such as falling and crashing, are greatly reduced as your coordination and balance improve. This translates into your body being more coordinated in all activities you undertake, both on and off the bike.
8. Sleep better
You won't sleep better just because you are physically tired, although that is one reason. Sleep will be easier and deeper because of many of the other benefits of mountain bike riding.
As your mind becomes more clear and your stress level falls, your body will fall into a natural sleep that helps revive you in a manner that you may not have experienced for sometime. Life is full of stress, both minor and major, that add up over time.
This reduces the quality of your sleep. This low quality sleep, in turn, decreases your ability to handle stress. It becomes an unending cycle.
After only one good ride, you will find your mind feeling less burdened and your sleep deeper. With regular riding, your sleep will become more regular and healing.
9. Lose weight
Losing weight will occur as you increase your muscle and burn fat. The regular motion involved in riding at even a slow pace will make losing weight easy and painless.
If you find it has been difficult to drop those last five pounds or you are looking at losing a hundred pounds, mountain bike riding gives you a fun, painless way to see those pounds melt away.
All weight loss programs are a mixture of healthy eating and regular exercise. Mountain biking will take care of the exercise and many regular riders find that as they start feeling healthier, they are drawn to eating healthier foods without consciously choosing such.
10. Increase metabolism
One of the reasons weight loss is easier when you partake in regular mountain bike rides is that your metabolism increases. Other benefits of increased metabolism are fewer feelings of exhaustion, a clearer mind, and more overall energy.
Your body will perform at a greater level, making you feel energized and healthier. A healthy metabolism benefits your hormones, neurotransmitters and every other body system, creating a cycle of health that lasts long after you put your bike away for the night.
What are the Psychological Benefits of Mountain Biking?
Mountain biking offers much more than physical benefits. Those who ride regularly don't take long to notice that there are also psychological benefits that can start to be noticed after even the first day out on the trails.
1. Decreases stress
Exercise is one of the first things a doctor suggests to help reduce a person's stress level. Mountain bike riding is ideal in this respect. As you ride, your mind becomes focused on what you are doing.
Your oxygen level increases and helps make solutions to problems clearer. The very act of being outside and having nothing to concentrate on except the joy of riding helps your body and mind relax to the point where you find yourself becoming lighter in mood.
Sleep becomes easier and deeper, making it easier to handle additional stress. Neurotransmitters are regulated, allowing for the release of hormones that reduce stress and increase mood enhancing chemicals in the brain. All add up to a greater sense of peace.
2. Increase feeling of freedom
Life is full of responsibilities. People feel weighed down by jobs, bills and many other things. Setting out on a long ride can allow a person to put all those thoughts aside for a time and live for only that ride.
Weight is lifted as the person takes the time to just be and not do. Another way riders feel free is when they are speeding downhill on a mountain bike. Feeling the wind rushing past and the ease of the wheels along the path can give a person the feeling of flying. For a brief period of time, there is nothing but that ride.
3. Enjoyment of nature
Most people live in some developed area. This can mean being surrounded by concrete, tall buildings, and people, many people. All too often, humans find they miss the feeling of connecting with the earth.
The smell of dirt, the green trees, and fresh air are all things we long for but may rarely experience. Mountain biking gives riders a chance to experience the feelings that nature help brings about. Fresh air and a peaceful existence that helps wash away the noise and stress of city living.
4. Building self-confidence
At first, a new rider may feel unsure but as they start riding further, start feeling healthier and become more skilled their self-confidence increases.
One of the great things about self-confidence is that as it grows in one area of a person's life, it spills over into other areas as well.
A rider gets confident in their biking skill, they feel and look better physically, this good feeling translates into a more confident feeling in social settings, and it just keeps spreading with each success.
5. Can help others
Mountain bikers have often proven to be kind, giving individuals as a group. Becoming a skilled rider gives you an opportunity to join in many charitable events that help provide money for a variety of causes.
There have been many organized events that have drawn hundreds of participants but there have also been individual bikers who have chosen to ride across the country to collect money and gain awareness for a particular cause. The possibilities are limited by only an individual's imagination.
6. Good for making friends
One way to make friends is to find a common interest to talk about. There are so many mountain bike enthusiasts and most feel very passionate about the activity.
Start talking to one other rider and you may find yourself part of a whole community of mountain bikers, all willing to make new friends.
You will end up finding more about these people overtime and it is likely many will share other interests of yours. Before long, you will find your social life has increased considerably if that is what you would like.
7. Creates family togetherness
Sometimes families find that each person is so busy doing their own thing and the family doesn't spend much time together. Mountain biking is an activity that appeals to many different types of people.
Often, every member of the family will enjoy biking so this is an activity that can bring family members together. You can spend the weekends on outings or even plan a trip on the bikes during summer vacations.
Enjoying an activity together helps bring families closer together and creating memories that will be talked about for many years to come. Some families have even enjoyed mountain biking together so long that outings involve three generations.
8. Increased problem-solving skills
Mountain bike riding helps increase problem-solving skills in two different ways. When a person is riding, decisions have to be made immediately in regards to whether a path is able to be navigated, how best to avoid obstacles and even how fast one can safely ride under certain circumstances.
The more you make these quick decisions, the stronger the neural pathways become in the decision-making parts of the brain. These neural pathways then stay strong, making other decisions easier to make.
The second way is by relieving stress and providing much-needed oxygen to the brain. This empties the riders mind and allows for the ability to focus on what is most important at that moment.
9. Increase in creativity
When riding a bike, many riders get into what is called "the zone". This is a place where the conscious mind seems to take a backseat and the creative part of the mind allows ideas to flow unattended. This is the state where most creative work is best done.
As you ride, your mind clears and you get into a rhythm pedaling. Soon, the outside world seems to slow and all but disappear and your mind begins to create. As long as nothing interrupts this flow, the ideas will come until the rider chooses to stop them.
10. Living in the moment
All too often humans tend to worry about the future or think about the past. In doing either of these, the present moment passes and all that it could be is lost. When you are riding, you need to be aware of what is happening around you.
This forces one to concentrate on this very second, not what came before or is yet to come. While a few people may consider this need to focus one of the disadvantages of mountain biking, it is actually what most professional life coaches say is the best state of mind.
How Does Regular Mountain Biking Make You a Better Rider?
When you participate regularly in any action, your skill gets better but with mountain biking, you don't simply get faster or learn how to pedal easier. As you become more involved in mountain bike riding, the biking world opens up in ways you may never have considered.
1. Increase your skills
This is the obvious result of regular riding. You learn how to navigate rougher terrains, ride indifferent weather conditions and may find your newer fitness level makes the whole experience easier.
If you are jumping or doing tricks, they become easier to do and success comes more often. Eventually, you need to concentrate less on the technicalities of riding and can concentrate more on enjoying the experience.
2. Venture into other types of riding
Most people begin their mountain bike journey riding on smooth roads but the challenge soon becomes too easy. Once they master flat terrain, they venture into rougher paths and even downhill racing.
Others continue on to trick riding and jumps. The better-skilled one becomes at one type of riding, the more open they are to trying other variations.
3. Increased stamina
New riders may find that riding one or two miles is tiring and maybe even painful as unused muscles are being used. With regular riding, however, they find themselves increasing the length of rides.
What started out as a mile may eventually become ten and twenty-mile rides and some people take time off of work to travel across the country on their bikes.
It becomes a great way to see the world without being confined to highways and being inside vehicles that can't take the time to stop when something catches your interest. Before long, you won't believe that a mere two-mile ride was once difficult to manage.
4. Faster skills
Riding faster is something that happens naturally as one becomes more skilled in riding. It isn't something you may notice at first but one day you realize that a distance you once covered in fifteen minutes is now being covered in five.
Some people just note this increase in speed with a smile and continue doing what they have been all along, Others, however, see the challenge that can be had. They start timing themselves and striving to improve their speed.
Others aim for competition with others and not just themselves. Whichever category a rider is in, the sense of accomplishment is something to be cherished.
5. Ability to ride on rougher terrain
Mountain biking takes skill. When a person first starts riding, they need to choose terrain that is fairly smooth. This is a period of improving balance, coordination, and endurance. As their skill improves, they can move onto dirt paths then rocky paths.
They start being able to handle inclines and declines easily. The more a person rides, the greater their strength and skill become. The only limitation is one that is set by the individual them self.
Are There Other Benefits of Mountain Biking?
As if we haven't already covered more benefits than many other activities provide, we haven't reached the end of the benefits of mountain bike riding. There are other benefits that don't fall into the above categories but are still important, both personally for riders and for the world as a whole.
1. Part of a worldwide community
Mountain bike riders can be found everywhere in the world. No matter where a rider chooses to travel, there is a community of other riders ready and willing to provide a sense of belonging and friendship.
When one chooses to ride they may enjoy the solitude of lone rides or only want the companionship of a beloved dog. This is okay but if a rider wants to join with others and wants a ready group who understands the wonders of riding, that is also an option.
2. Positive addiction
Everyone has something they are addicted to. Most addictions are harmful, physically and mentally but mountain bike riding falls into the category of a positive addiction.
You will find yourself looking forward to your next ride almost as soon as the current ride ends. Riders love the sense of freedom and abandonment that riding offers.
To be able to enjoy an activity merely for the sense of enjoyment, and know that you benefit from that activity, gives one a sense of peace and exhilaration mixed.
3. Peace of mind
Riding clears the mind of stale air, worries, and thoughts of limitations. Regular mountain bike riders talk about how being in nature and living only for the moment of the ride offers a sense of peace that has been eluding them for years.
To know that at the end of the ride one feels better physically, sleeps more soundly and wakes with the ability to face the daily stress and chaos with a clearer mind and stronger focus creates a sense of well-being and peace that is unequaled.
Peace of mind is something so many seek and few find. You won't have to look very far from the seat of a mountain bike.
4. Better for the environment
Mountain bike riding leaves little behind to disturb the environment. There are no chemicals emitted into the air, no need for paved roads that destroy the natural environment and nothing but tire tracks left behind to indicate anyone was around.
Plants and animals are not disturbed by unnatural elements and loud noises. Nothing about mountain bike riding adds to pollution or takes from the Earth any natural resources beyond those needed to create the bike itself.
Very rarely is an animal injured or killed by a mountain bike tire. The beauty one biker finds as they start out on a trail is there for the next rider and all the riders that come after. Imagine as you travel what the first inhabitants f the area saw as they passed through.
Chances are that if you are on a little used path, you are seeing things very much as they did. It can really give you a feeling of how everything and everyone is connected in some way.
5. Save money
Owning vehicles such as cars, trucks, and motorcycles can cost a great deal of money. You need to buy the vehicle, get insurance, replace expensive parts as they wear out and keep gas, oil and other fluids around to keep the vehicles running smoothly.
You also need to spend money on a license and very often parking fees can cost a large amount. Once you have made your initial mountain bike purchase, which costs considerably less than any of the other vehicles, you don't have to pay for a license, insurance or parking fees.
Replacement parts aren't nearly as expensive as those on the other vehicles and any accessories last, unlike gas and oil. Using your mountain bike for transportation can save you hundreds of dollars a year and if you use it for vacation travel, that amount can translate into thousands of dollars, depending on your destination.
6. Avoid public transportation
Public transportation can be less expensive than owning a vehicle and it is better for the environment than driving, but those who depend on public transportation know all too well the pitfalls.
If you are not a sociable person, the number of people can be overwhelming. Then you are stuck having to get to certain pickup spots and getting off at other designated places, many times leaving you several blocks to walk to your home or other destination.
Public transportation can be delayed, causing you to be late for important appointments or work. Finally, whichever mode you take can find you standing in a space way too small and having your personal space crowded by strangers.
The experience can ruin what would otherwise be a wonderful day. When you decide to take up mountain biking, you can avoid all those issues. Your bike takes you from one destination to another on your schedule.
You don't have to spend time waiting and you don't have to share your personal space. It can make a world of difference in the way your day unfolds.
7. Safer than driving a car
Accidents happen. They can happen no matter what vehicle you are in and they can even happen when you are walking. The chances of being in an accident while on a mountain bike are much lower, however, than riding in a car.
The chances of being seriously injured are also much lower when a mountain bike is the one in an accident. Lower speeds are involved and mountain bikes are more often ridden in areas where there is little traffic, meaning the cause of any accident is less likely to be another vehicle.
Mountain bikers normally wear protective helmets, gloves and other protective gear that limits the amount of physical damage if there is a fall. You have a greater chance of walking away from an accident on a mountain bike than you do any other type of vehicle.
8. Become more focused
Having to be ready to make quick decisions, mountain bikers learn to stay focused on the task at hand. They must notice their surroundings and be on guard for quick stops or veering from their intended course.
Riders also become adept at reading changes in the air that indicate coming storms or fog. They can pick up sounds that indicate approaching animals or other riders and hikers. All of this creates a situation where the brain becomes more adept and the senses become heightened.
This does not go away once the bike ride ends. With this increased ability to focus and notice details, riders find they can be more productive in all other areas of life.
This can be especially helpful in one's career, where a focus on detail can see them getting things done quicker and with more accuracy, leading to better positions with higher pay.
9. Get a legal high
People get addicted to drugs because they enjoy the "high". Depending on the type of drug, worry disappears, there is a feeling of invincibility, the mundane somehow disappears and the world appears to be less stressful for a time.
The senses become heightened and focus can become so strong the rest of the environment fades away. Creativity can increase and the mind comes up with solutions to many things. Drugs also come with physical damage to the body and mind, long prison sentences, endless amounts of money spent, and even death.
When you see all the benefits of mountain bike riding it becomes clear you can obtain all those feelings associated with being high, but not risk any of the bad consequences. Mountain bike riders experience a natural, legal, and safe high that enhances life.
10. Get places faster
There isn't anyone who lives in a populated area that hasn't been stuck at least once in a traffic jam. People get slowed down by accidents, road construction, slow drivers and numerous other reasons. Depending upon public transportation can cause even more delays.
Walking is a healthy way to get around but it takes longer than any other transportation in most cases. It is also not the best option when you need to be somewhere at a certain time or have a fair distance to travel.
Mountain biking takes care of all the issues of walking and other vehicles. Bikers can bypass cars that are stuck in traffic, they can bypass road construction and travel routes not available to cars. A mountain bike rider is not limited to following paved streets and is not confined by time schedules that public transportation require.
Biking is faster than walking and you can easily traverse greater distances easily. Granted, you aren't going to be able to get across the country faster than a plane but then again, if you seek to take that trip, you are more interested in the feeling of accomplishment and enjoying the view than you are saving time.
Looking deeper, you may discover even more benefits of mountain biking. The benefits covered here are ones that are experienced by the majority of riders. Every rider is an individual, however, and personal benefits will also be realized by each person according to what they seek with the experience.
Do not fall into the trap of believing that you are too old, too young, too heavy, too thin or too anything to get into mountain bike riding. This is a sport that nearly everyone can enjoy. Some will need to start slower and others may not achieve the skill to do fancy tricks and jumps but everyone will be able to enjoy riding.
If mountain biking seems like something you would enjoy doing, start looking for a bike - they come in all sizes and styles - and grab a friend or family member if you want company. You will wonder why you didn't try this sooner.