Here’s something to wrap your mind around: When you exercise, you’re not only supporting the overall health of your body. Getting in a quick workout also supports your brain, which is the most important organ you use and an arguably separate entity from your body (it’s your command center!).
Having a healthy brain is the first step to being happier, more productive, and more optimistic about life. Beside the occasional crossword puzzle, what activities can improve your decision making, help you solve problems, interact successfully with others and enjoy — or keep —an emotionally stable heart and mind? The answer could be found in cycling.
In particular, cycling has been proven to help create a healthy brain, which ultimately supports your mental health. In this article, we share the top five brain health benefits you can reap from cycling:
1. Cycling boosts your memory and reasoning.
This is why you never forget how to ride a bike! Just as exercise does with your muscles, cycling increases blood flow to the brain, bringing in more oxygen and nutrients that can improve its performance. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health, cycling increases the production of proteins used for creating new brain cells by two or three times, boosting your cognitive memory.
2. It affects your mood.
Use cycling to “zone out,” or as a form of meditation. One thing’s for sure: Cycling has been shown to significantly boost the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. This means your happiness reaches an all-time high during or after your exercise. These neurotransmitters also play a key part in your body’s relaxation. At the end of the day, whether you’re relaxed or happy, you’re more likely to feel a strong urge to smile, laugh or socialize with others with increased levels of dopamine and serotonin.
3. Cycling offers an avenue for making new friends, which positively impacts your neurotransmitters
Joining a cycling group exercise class is a great opportunity for making new friends, which can improve your self-perception and sense of self-worth. According to VeryWellMind, your neurotransmitters like Oxytocin have a role to play in social recognition and bonding, which impacts your brain functionality. Group cycling offers a safe space to make new friends while also having fun. Pedal to the rhythm of a catchy tune during your class,
. Or mingle with your peers before and after your program.
4. It helps treat Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers found that the brain learns to use dopamine in a more efficient way when cycling that can also reduce Parkinson’s symptoms. The Crosby Wellness Center’s Pedaling for Parkinson’s™ program uses high cadence cycling (80 to 90 rpm) to forestall the progression of the disease, alleviate many symptoms and even reduce medication. Results vary due to the broad range of Parkinson’s symptoms, but it is clear that extended periods of forced exercise have positive effects. This class is led by a cycling instructor with Parkinson’s knowledge. Care partner participation is encouraged but not required.
5. Cycling slows your brain’s aging, which increases your chances of longevity
Want to know the secret to living a longer life? According to Medical News Today, cycling helps your brain become more efficient by building neurons and growing the hippocampus, which increases your chances for a longer lifespan. Your brain is like a muscle — if you don’t use it, you lose it!
Get Your Brain in Gear
By attending four cycling classes at the Crosby Wellness Center from August 1 to August 31, you have a chance to win a FREE Brain Boost smoothie from the Center for Health & Wellbeing’s (CHWB) café, Nourish Coffee Bar + Kitchen.
For more information or to become a Crosby Wellness Center member, please visit the Member Services Desk inside CHWB or call (407) 644-3606.