Mental Effects Of Cycling

Discussion in 'Health Nutrition and Supplements' started by Lizel, Jul 24, 2015.

  1. Lizel

    Lizel Active Member

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    Every morning Canadian neuroscientist Brian Christie, PhD, gives hisbrain 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.

    Grow Your Mind
    Exercise is like fertilizer for your brain. All those hours spent turning your cranks create rich capillary beds not only in your quads and glutes, but also in your gray matter. More blood vessels in your brain and muscles mean more oxygen and nutrients to help them work, says Christie.

    When you pedal, you also force more nerve cells to fire. As these neurons light up, they intensify the creation of proteins like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and a compound called noggin (yes, really), which promote the formation of new brain cells. The result: You double or triple the production of neurons—literally building your brain, says Christie. You also release neurotransmitters (the messengers between your brain cells) so all those cells, new and old, can communicate with each other for better, faster functioning.

    This kind of growth is especially important with each passing birthday, because as we age, our brains shrink and those connections weaken. Exercise restores and protects the organ, says Arthur Kramer, PhD, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Our research finds that after only three months, people who exercised had the brain volume of those three years younger," says Kramer, referring to a study that examined the brains of 59 sedentary volunteers between the ages of 60 and 79 who either did an exercise program or were inactive for six months.

    A bigger, more connected brain simply works better. "Adults who exercise display sharper memory skills, higher concentration levels, more fluid thinking, and greater problem-solving ability than those who are sedentary," says Kramer.

    Ride Your Way Smarter
    So if a little exercise boosts your mental acumen, will going longer and harder earn you Mensa membership? Not so much, says Christie. More isn't always better, especially in the short term, he says. The same study that reported brain benefits from a short exercise session also revealed that more intense efforts can temporarily compromise memory and information processing, something Christie has seen firsthand.

    Christie's teenage daughter also kicks off her day with exercise—specifically rowing practice, usually with searing interval sets. But instead of leaving her brain firing on all cylinders, the workout leaves her a little stalled out when she arrives at school. "Short term, you're on a U-shaped curve for exercise and mental benefits," says Christie. "Too little and your brain doesn't get what it needs to work optimally. Too much and your body has sapped the glucose and other resources it needs, so it's hindered until it recovers." The sweet spot for sharp mental acuity right after exercise is about 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic riding at roughly 75 percent of your maximum heart rate, or an effort of 7 on a scale of 1 (standing still) to 10 (going all out).

    Positive Spin
    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.

    "Exercise works as well as psychotherapy and antidepressants in the treatment of depression, maybe better," says James Blumenthal, PhD, professor of behavioral medicine in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. 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 soon as our lab rats start running on their wheels, they get a 100 to 200 percent increase in serotonin levels," says J. David Glass, PhD, a brain-chemistry researcher at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

    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. When researchers asked 24 men to either run or pedal at a moderate intensity or sit for about 50 minutes, they found high blood levels of anandamide, a natural cannabinoid, in the exercisers, but not in sedentary volunteers.

    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, says Monika Fleshner, PhD, a professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. As you get fitter, it takes a longer, harder ride to trigger that same response. "For people who are active, it takes a greater crisis to trigger the cortisol response as compared with sedentary people," says Fleshner. "So now you can go into a stressful environment and be okay. You can endure a lot more before you kick off a stress response."

    What's the cycling prescription for happiness? The authors of a recent review study on exercise and depression came up with the following guidelines to ward off the blues with aerobic exercise: 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.

    For more go to;
    http://www.bicycling.com/training/fitness/your-brain-bicycling

    Hope that you enjoyed reading the article. :D
     
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  2. Corzhens

    Corzhens Well-Known Member

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    As I had posted in another thread, riding takes away the undue stress. Especially when the road is clear and no traffic, I would do a leisurely ride that sometimes would take me an hour which I would fail to notice until I get a call that breakfast is ready in 30 minutes. The morning ride is the best for me but I also ride at night although not often. Aside from the energy, riding gives me a relaxed mindset that I need for the next day's grind.
     
  3. Dora M

    Dora M Member

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    On weekends when I take myself and my bike to some more remote area in the countryside, I can switch off my mind and just bask in the beauty of the surrounding nature. As for riding to work, it's a different story. It's true, I do get distracted from my daily worries while pedaling to work, but only to replace them with new worries about what's going on in front or behind me. :wacko:
     
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  4. Vickeree

    Vickeree Member

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    Wow this is great information! I wonder if it has the sake benefits with walking and standing all day? It's a good idea to integrate cycling on the way to work as part of lifestyle and training too
     
  5. Keyan

    Keyan Member

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    I could not believe myself saying that cycling is a form of meditation for me. I get to be with myself alone of course what I mean is I can think clearly being with myself atop this bike doing my routine. It feels relaxing and feel centered and focus every time I take my bike for a ride. This is the reason that walking or jogging and cycling are going to be a part of my daily routine.
     
  6. Corzhens

    Corzhens Well-Known Member

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    Walking and standing are 2 activities that affect the physical only. With biking, it also affects not only the mental part but also the emotional. There are times that I feel so stressed out and my temper would flare so I would grab my bike and head off to nowhere. That gives me the motivation to go ahead with life because I could feel that I have power, that is the energy that I exert on my legs to pump those pedals.
     
  7. gavinfree

    gavinfree Member

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    I think all of these things are easy enough to see and experience ourselves. Cycling, like most forms of physical exercise, come with mental benefits, too. None of this is surprising, of course, but not everyone thinks about these kinds of things as they're cycling.
     
  8. davidcaw2rn

    davidcaw2rn New Member

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    When I feeling down I hop on my bike and cruise around the city.
    It helps me to calm and feel great with the different views and different faces i can see while riding.
    What i like most is when I'm cruising on the beach, I love the sea breeze and the sound of the waves.
    It lights up my mood specially when the early sun rays hits my face. I love that feeling.
     
  9. sunshiney

    sunshiney Member

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    I'm not surprised to read his.
    When I start my morning with a ride or a jog I feel like it sets up me for the day.
    I have a hard time getting started in the morning so it kind of wakes me up and gets my brain going. I don't drink coffee or anything so I need something to perk me up!
     
  10. davidcaw2rn

    davidcaw2rn New Member

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    Same here. :)
    no coffee for me. i just drink fruit juice then warm my body up.
    riding a bike makes my body energized for a whole day.
     
  11. Runnerdo

    Runnerdo New Member

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    So many benefits about riding I am amazed. I have noticed a feeling of wellness after a day out riding though. My mind is more alert and I don't tire easily so I can keep going on. Nice read this one.
     
  12. Keyan

    Keyan Member

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    I do agree with the benefits of cycling you mentioned. It is like a change of scene that suddenly gave you a fresh insight or a made you feel calm and relaxed. This is not just about getting fit physically it is also another way to relieve stress.
     
  13. DarkStarling

    DarkStarling New Member

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    I feel the same way, but it isn't only about stress for me. I actually feel a physical need to go out and do stuff, I either go out for a run, or just walk, or cycle when I feel a bit down energy wise. If I have a problem, or something I feel overwhelmed by, the exercise just helps me get into the mentality that I can actually solve whatever problem I have. I kind of feel depressed if I don't get any exercise on a regular basis.
     
  14. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    I pretty much stopped racing almost 20 years ago because training became more of a way to grind my soul into the dirt and make every ride hurt. It was becoming more destructive than productive.

    If I knew then what I do now, maybe that wouldn't have ended like that.
     
  15. briannagodess

    briannagodess Member

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    It's true that exercise, in any form, can make you more alert, focused and energetic. After a morning jog and bike, I feel more energetic even if I have only slept for two hours. I can focus and do work, household chores and even take care of a baby. I notice that when I don't have my usual biking session, I am drowsy, lifeless and weak.

    My husband says that working out and biking helps his memory become sharper. Which is true, because his exams are higher when he exercised prior to reviewing. So these are testaments that exercising has a lot of benefits on our minds!
     
  16. Vickeree

    Vickeree Member

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    It's a good idea to start children with excercise at an early age to boost their brain. Apparently the part of the brain that gets activated doing mental cognitive tasks are the same part of the brain that lights up when excersing and learning a locomotor skill such as running and biking
     
  17. kmars

    kmars New Member

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    This is a lot of information to absorb and thank you for sharing it. I've always known that exercising had a positive impact on the brain. My fault however is that I hardly get to exercise and ride nowadays because of my busy schedule. Reading this article was very inspiring and I feel like getting back on the road immediately. What I know for sure is that exercise increases the blood flow to the brain and when blood is flowing to the brain, the brain is given oxygen? Oxygen then is what is needed in order to fire the brains concentration.
     
  18. kmars

    kmars New Member

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    I'm very glad for the schools that I went to before High School. They would allow us to basically run free at lunchtime. We played cricket, football and all kinds of sports. Coming back to the classrooms sweaty and even odorous.
     
  19. LinB

    LinB New Member

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    I feel very informed and edified by this post. Muchas gracias. I always knew that exercising had a very powerful and potent effect on my concentration and my focus throughout the day, but I never got the details in such depth. I actually feel inspired to go on with my daily exercises.
     
  20. rcdpink

    rcdpink New Member

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    I was thinking about it the other day that it is so unfortunate that we have to age. Nevertheless it is still possible to age gracefully. Everything that we eat and do with our bodies right now will have a lasting impact on it until the day we die. Exercising is one of the ways to regenerate our body's cells, to rejuvenate our energy levels, and also to enhance brain functions as you mentioned in this article, which is very detailed if I'm a add. People who don't exercise or cycle don't know what they're missing out on.
     
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