Your Brain on Bicycling
Bikes and Hikes LA is always interested in finding new ways to improve your health and lifestyle in eco-friendly ways. Bicyling.com has posted an interesting article about the benefits of everyday biking on your brain that we wanted to share with you!
It's no secret that cycling makes you fitter. It also sharpens your thinking and melts away stress. Now researchers are discovering why—and exactly how you can maximize the cognitive benefits of a good ride.
Every morning Canadian neuroscientist Brian Christie, PhD, gives his brain an extra boost. We're not talking about tossing back multiple strong shots of espresso or playing one of those mind-training games advertised all over Facebook.
"I hop on my bike, go to the gym for 45 minutes, then ride the rest of the way to work," says Christie. "When I get to my desk, my brain is at peak activity for a few hours." After his mental focus sputters to a halt later in the day, he jump-starts it with another short spin to run errands.
Ride, work, ride, repeat. It's a scientifically proven system. In a recent study in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, scientists found that people scored higher on tests of memory, reasoning, and planning after 30 minutes of spinning on a stationary bike than they did before they rode. They also completed the tests faster after pedaling.
Of course, there's a lot more to mental fitness than just improving your smarts. Plenty of science backs the idea that a good ride can also have emotional benefits. Cycling can elevate your mood, relieve anxiety, increase stress resistance, and even banish the blues. A recent study analyzing 26 years of research finds that even just some exercise—as little as 20 to 30 minutes a day—can prevent depression over the long term.
At the moment, scientists don't completely understand the exact mechanisms, but they do know that physical activity like cycling boosts the production of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine.
As you pedal past the 20-to 30-minute mark, other mood-lifting chemicals like endorphins and cannabinoids (which, as the name suggests, are in the same family of chemicals that give pot smokers their high) kick in. Even better, regularly riding your bike helps keep hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in check, which means you'll feel less stressed and you'll bounce back from anxiety-filled situations more easily.
The sweet spot for sharpening mental acuity right after exercise is about 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic riding at roughly 75 percent of your maximum heart rate.
Remember: Although it's healthy, exercise itself is a stress, especially when you're just getting started or back into riding. When you first begin to exert yourself, your body releases cortisol to raise your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels. As you get fitter, it takes a longer, harder ride to trigger that same response.
What's the cycling prescription for happiness?
Do three to five sessions a week. Each session should be 45 to 60 minutes long and keep your heart rate between 50 and 85 percent of your max. Of course, that's just a minimum recommendation aimed at the general public. You can go ahead and ride to your heart's—and mind's—content.
Suddenly in the mood to go for a bike ride and have an adventure with your friends or family? Be sure to check out our Bike Tours around LA.
LA IN A DAY BIKE TOUR
See what the Wall Street Journal, the LA Times, National Discovery, ABC, CBS & Bike Times are calling the best way to experience LA. Your adventure starts on legendary Route 66 in West Hollywood and takes you through Beverly Hills & Bel-Air for an up close view of the palaces the movie stars call home. Then it’s on to our world famous beach towns: Santa Monica, Venice & Marina Del Rey. Afterwards, you’ll bike through Culver City, where you'll find the historic movie studios that put the City of Angels on the map. This 32-mile, 5 hour excursion is “bucket list” worthy and leaves no site unseen.
MOVIE STAR HOMES BIKE TOUR
One of our most scenic adventures takes you through LA’s most exclusive enclaves, Beverly Hills, Bel-Air & West Hollywood, in a truly up-close-and-personal way. Whether riding along boutique-lined Rodeo Drive or pedaling past 30+ Legendary Homes, you will see LA’s most glamourous neighborhoods in the most intimate way imaginable. Chances are you’ll even see a star (or the paparazzi tracking their every move). A few small hills at the beginning are certain to get your blood pumping and spirits soaring. You'll also enjoy a walking tour of the gardens and grounds of a legendary Beverly Hills estate featured in countless tv shows and films.
At Bikes and Hikes LA our motto is: Experience LA - Don't Just Drive Past It! Trust us, you’ll appreciate the difference. When you take the auto out of the equation, you’ll be AMAZED by how many secret gems Los Angeles has all ripe for your discovery. Bike tours and hiking tours offer visitors and Angelenos alike the city’s ultimate up-close-and personal adventure — PLUS — you’ll be exploring the city in the greenest, most eco-friendly way possible. We further specialize in group tours and bike rentals.