“Forest bathing” may be a term that has appeared on your screen or in your social circles over the past few years. The term and the activity are increasing as more and more people seek refuge in nature, especially during these difficult times. Studies have shown that the simple act of sitting in the woods reduces blood pressure, improve immune functions, alleviate depression, and improve overall mental health.
While it is more of a quick “forest shower,” mountain biking and mental health go hand in hand. The effects of nature only are increased by the rigorous physical activity that mountain biking can be. As one of the many health benefits of mountain biking, mental health improvement is widely apparent and often talked of in the community. It isn’t just your calves getting stronger. Here are some of the ways mountain biking improves mental health.
5 Ways Mountain Biking Improves Mental Health
1. Lowers Stress Levels
Neurotransmitters blast out endorphins in your brain to fight stress and manage pain levels. Any exercise will put these neurotransmitters into action to start producing endorphins that are often known as the feel-good chemicals, dopamine being the most well-known.
Mountain biking is an incredibly rigorous and physically demanding sport. As you pedal along, your brain starts to get to work as well. The endorphins come out to fight the stressful and challenging day you may have had at work.
On top of the endorphins, working your body while mountain biking helps to imitate different stress reactions. This kind of training helps your brain become better accustomed to stressful situations, meaning it knows what to do automatically when stress comes up.
2. Builds Self-Confidence
Even scientists have been attempting to find the key to happiness, and all of their research keeps pointing towards outdoor exercise.
It’s been shown that it only takes five minutes doing something outdoors to start to boost your mood and self-esteem. That’s a short bike ride to get towards feeling better overall.
On top of this, the growth that mountain biking offers is great. You may start not knowing how to ride a bike, and in a year or even a few months, there are some easily achievable trails to ride. As you get better at mountain biking, your self-esteem is going to rise right alongside you.
3. Time in Nature
They refer to it as “green exercise.” It’s an exercise done in the presence of natural spaces, which is precisely what mountain biking is.
The list of ways in which nature can help to improve mental health goes on and on. The necessity of getting kids outside is becoming more and more apparent to keep up their happiness and boost their communication skills.
These benefits of being outside come from simply being outside. Mountain biking adds the benefits of physical activity to the already existing natural healing.
4. Better Sleep
At the end of a long day being outside on the trails, the bed looks even more appealing than it usually does. Exercise gets you to a place where you can fall asleep easier and get better quality of sleep.
The benefits of mountain biking include getting better sleep. Better sleep, in turn, means improved mental health. Improved sleep quality has been shown to result in increased mood, productivity, and overall satisfaction with life.
That’s it. Mountain biking means a better life.
5. Improves Mindfulness
One of the final ways mountain biking can improve your mental health is the amount of mindfulness that the activity naturally demands. When cruising through sharp turns and over rugged terrain, your brain goes into high alert, needing to be aware of everything happening.
Mountain biking benefits anyone with trouble focusing. This forced presence is a wonderful and engaging form of meditation that often you don’t realize you are doing. It will help to keep you focused on life and train the brain to focus on what’s right in front of you.
Mountain biking and mental health don’t naturally seem too tightly connected. When you start to uncover the layers of what mountain biking indeed does to your brain, all of the studies and research start to seem like common sense. If you ride often, we imagine you can pick out a moment where you have felt every part of this list in action either on the trail or when you’ve gotten home at night.
Keep riding; keep smiling.