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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while or clicking around this site, it’s no secret that I love mountain biking. I love the time spent outdoors, the physical and mental challenges, the mountain biking community, and so much more. The benefits of mountain biking are as numerous and diverse as features on a trail!
So if you’re wondering whether you should give mountain biking a try (or pondering whether it’s worth the blood, sweat, and tears), in this blog post I share a few reasons why mountain biking is good for your mental and physical health.
1. improve your mental health
We all know that exercise is good for our physical health, but did you know that it’s also good for our mental health? According to the Mayo Clinic, “Exercise can help reverse low mood and depression.”¹ And according to a study published in the Journal Of Clinical Psychiatry, “aerobic exercises […] have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression.”²
Mountain biking is a great form of aerobic exercise, and it can help improve your mental health in a number of ways. For starters, it can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also help boost your mood, increase your energy levels, and improve your sleep.
If you’re struggling with mental health issues, spending time on the trails can help you feel better.
2. lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, mountain biking can be a great way to do it. According to Harvard Health Publishing, biking at a moderate pace for 30 minutes can burn about 300 calories³.
Of course, how many calories you burn will depend on factors like your current weight, intensity level when biking, and the terrain you are riding on.
But even if you’re not looking to lose weight, mountain biking can help you maintain a healthy weight. And since obesity is linked to a number of chronic health conditions, like heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight is important for your overall health.
3. make you stronger
If you’re looking to build strength and muscle, mountain biking is a great way to do it. When you’re pedaling up hills and powering through technical sections, you’re working your leg muscles, including your quads, hamstrings, and calves.
Mountain bikers also use their core muscles and upper body muscles, like their arms, back, and shoulders, especially when descending hills or climbing particularly steep sections.
Over time, mountain biking can lead to increased muscle strength and endurance. And since strong muscles help protect your joints from injuries, this is good news for your knees, hips, and lower back!
4. improve heart health
Mountain biking is a great form of cardio exercise, and like all forms of cardio exercise, it can help improve heart health. Cardio exercise helps strengthen the heart muscle and lowers the resting heart rate. Cardio also helps improve blood circulation and can help lower blood pressure.
All of these benefits aid in reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. So if you’re looking for a way to improve your heart health, mountain biking is a great option.
5. improve your balance & coordination
Riding a mountain bike can help improve your balance and coordination. This is because mountain biking requires you to use both your upper and lower body to control the bike, and it challenges your proprioception (your ability to sense the position of your body in space).
Improving your balance can help you stay safe on the trails and can also help reduce your risk of injuries, on and off the bike. The CDC reports that balance training can help improve your coordination, which can make everyday activities easier, including the risk of falling as you grow older.
6. connect with nature
For many people, one of the benefits of mountain biking is that it helps them connect with nature. According to several studies, spending time in nature have be a huge boon to mental health and overall happiness⁴.
So if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, spending time on the trails can be a great way to do it. And if you live in an area with beautiful scenery, mountain biking is a great way to appreciate the natural world.
Spending time in nature is one of the best benefits of mountain biking, especially if you’re dealing with negative stuff in your life and you need a little boost.
7. Build Community
Mountain bikers are awesome if I say so myself. We know how to have fun, rally for big adventures, talk shop all day long, and drink lots of beer (or cider for me!).
In my opinion, one of the biggest benefits of mountain biking is connecting with other riders and spending the day together out on the trails.
Mountain biking is also a great way to meet new friends. There are lots of local mountain biking Facebook groups to get involved with, mountain bike clubs that put on events (Google your state + “mountain bike club”), bike shops that organize weekly rides, and other groups and events where you can find new ride buddies.
8. It’s a great family activity
Looking to spend more time with family? Get everyone on a mountain bike. Mountain biking is probably the biggest thing that binds my family together. We take mountain biking vacations, ride local trails together, do post-ride meals, talk about bikes, and so much more!
There’s really no excuse for someone not to mountain bike (unless they really, really don’t want to…). E-bikes are great for family members who aren’t up for the physical challenge and there are lots of tag-along bike options for kids like the Mac Ride which my brother uses with his kids.
9. explore new places
If you love to travel, mountain biking can be a great way to see new places. Whether that’s a trip to the stunning red rocks of Sedona, the rolling green hills of Vermont, the mountainous fjords of Squamish, or the top of Whistler bike park, mountain biking can take you to some pretty amazing places.
And mountain biking isn’t just confined to North America. There are literally incredible trails all over the world from a bike park in Bali to the majestic Swiss Alps.
So how about a mountain bike trip overseas for your next vacation?
10. relieve stress & Anxiety
If you’re looking for a way to relieve stress, mountain biking can be a great option. Exercise and spending time in nature can help relieve tension and stress, so mountain biking is a great choice if you need to blow off some steam.
Whether it’s a quick post-work spin on local trails or a week-long mountain bike vacation to Moab, mountain biking is a great – and healthy – way to manage and reduce stress and anxiety.
11. Mountain biking challenges you – Physically & mentally
Mountain biking can be tough. Really tough. And not just physically, but mentally as well. Trying new features on the trail that look and feel scary requires a willingness to take risks and break down mental barriers. More often than not, I find that tackling a new drop or rock garden is more about getting over the mental side of things than a lack of skill or ability.
As for the physical challenge of mountain biking, I think that’s pretty self-explanatory. Pedaling uphill is hard, but the more you do it, the easier it gets and the fitter you become.
12. build confidence
One of the biggest benefits of mountain biking for me has been building confidence on and off the bike. No matter your skill level or fitness, rolling down a singletrack trail on a mountain bike makes you feel like a badass, am I right?
And this confidence often spills over to the real world with improved self-esteem in life, work, relationships, your body and so much more! So if you’re lacking self-esteem or confidence, hop on a mountain bike a go for a ride!
Mountain biking is a great way to get exercise, spend time outdoors, and connect with friends and family. Or if you’re looking for a way to relieve stress, mountain biking can be a great option. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring the trails!
¹Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms
²Exercise for Mental Health
³Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights
⁴Spending Just 20 Minutes in a Park Makes You Happier. Here’s What Else Being Outside Can Do for Your Health
Looking for resources to help you get started with mountain biking? Start with these posts:
Are you a mountain biker? What have you found are the biggest benefits of mountain biking? What questions or concerns do you still have? I’d love to hear in the comments below!