Mountain Biking For Fitness

Fitness

There is plenty of scientific research out there that shows how Mountain Biking can have positive outcomes on physical, mental and social health. If you’ve been riding for a while, as I have, you know that already. Still it’s worth running a couple of searches if for nothing more than the interest factor and impressing people you want to convert.

If you are new to Mountain Biking, explore some of the benefits here and measure them after you’ve been riding for a while. You really will notice the differences in your physical and mental health. True, you may notice a few negatives on your bank balance but in my opinion and those of many others, it’s worth every spend so long as you think and research before you buy anything from a bike down to a pair of socks.

Physical Health

Let’s think about the joining a gym thing that so many people do but let fall by the wayside before they see any real benefit or progress. The cheapest gym in my area costs 29 Euros each month or 348 Euros (about 383 USD) each year. It’s open fixed hours and is a twenty-minute drive from home. So, I need about 2 hours in total for every visit and that’s not often practical daily.

Getting out on my bike is a different story because my shortest “blast” route takes one hour from home and back. OK, I’m lucky, there is an enormous amount of choice from my front door, and I work from home. I live in an MTB trail rich area and the trails don’t have opening times.

If I want some trail variety and have the time, I can choose a long-distance route from home or, load up the car and travel to the high mountains. The scenery is incredible, I don’t have to inhale the sweat from a gym environment and nature’s colour schemes are far preferable.

Complete Workout

The muscles used in mountain biking go way beyond the legs. Shoulders, hands, arms and back muscles also benefit. It’s good for the respiratory system and other inner organs too, including the brain. There’s also an argument that it’s good for people previously injured in other sports. Using myself as an example, I used to participate in mountain runs until I damaged both Achilles tendons (in separate incidents) and my running activity ended. I never have a problem with those old injuries when I ride my bike yet if I run on rough ground I quickly pick-up pain and I’m all over the place.

Mountain Biking is one of few exercise routines that can improve all aspects of fitness.

A Lot of Fun

Every ride is an adventure and an opportunity to discover a new trail. I’ve already mentioned the sweaty gym but didn’t mention the amazing aromas when riding over wild mint or thyme. Or there’s the fox that sits close to a trail looking at me bemused (true) and the deer that spotted me recently and I’m sure teased me by staying on the trail and keeping just far enough ahead. I tried to catch up, but it had the laughs, I just wasn’t quick enough.

Two days ago, out riding with my wife, we came across a wild fig tree and stopped to enjoy its’ fruits for 5-minutes before continuing our training ride for an event coming up soon in our region. There’s another big plus. You can ride alone, with others or join a club. Every experience is different and although you may have to adjust your pace when riding with others, it’s still a lot of fun.

Tones Muscles

I’m not interested in getting people to look at my body and say, “wow, he looks fit”, although I must be honest and say it’s a nice compliment when they do. Mountain Biking contributes to great muscle tone, better flexibility and I use less oxygen too. Sure, I get out of breath but never to the point of having to stop and recover. I look healthy and feel great.

Vital Organs

Regular Mountain Biking promotes a great cardiovascular workout and strengthens the heart and lungs. If these are working well, they contribute to you feeling more alert and all your body systems will show a green light. If the lights are green, regular illness such as colds become less frequent and injuries are quicker to heal. As well as feeling healthy, you will look healthy too.

Less Joint Stress

Read around or listen to other sports people or medics talking about how their sport often brings about or contributes to joint stress either through pain or long-term injuries that can lead to more complicated problems.

Riding a mountain bike isn’t a high impact sport. Your joints are not subjected to uneven movement or the stress of constant jarring, unlike road running which is known to be responsible for many injuries. MTB contributes to keeping your joints flexible and keeps you that way so long as you ride regularly.

Food For The Brain

Increasing oxygen levels increases brain power and can contribute to better productivity at work. By frequently increasing oxygen levels it can also help to keep away strokes or dementia for example. Those healthy bodily chemicals increase too, helping clear your mind of daily baggage. Healthier you, happier you.

When the going gets tough on the trail, you learn how to find solutions and take appropriate action. Often decisions must made and acted upon quickly to avoid a crash and this learning transfers to the rest of your world.

Coordination and Balance

After my Achilles tendon injuries my balance sucked. Thanks to Mountain biking I can ride a very narrow trail without crashing out. One of the early skills I learned was how to coordinate and balance. Keeping eyes on the trail, fingers ready to change gear or touch the brakes, pedal hard or back off a little on a tight bend, get my body in the correct position are all skills that have made a difference to my coordination and balance.

Wipe outs often occur when I either make a judgment error or I push too hard on a technical section of trail, but I have to say that these things don’t happen often even though I am by no means a quiet rider. The wipe-out incidents have reduced since coordination and balance improved. Another useful off-bike skill too!

Sleep Well

Mountain Biking is an incredible stress reliever. I can leave my work with stress levels of 5/10 and return post-ride at 2/10 or less. When I go to sleep at night, I do just that and I don’t wake up worrying about stuff during the night as I did before mountain biking.

Stress reduces the quality of sleep and decreases your ability to manage stress. See what sleep.org have to say about it. After a mountain bike ride, you will find your mind feeling less burdened and more relaxed. Regular riding will often lead to more regular and sound sleep.

Weight Loss

The best diet is healthy eating and regular mountain bike exercise.

I ride on average five times a week, and because of that activity I burn fat and increase muscle tone. After I first started riding, I didn’t really notice weight loss until people started making positive comments.

I knew my metabolism had increased because my food interests changed. This is difficult to quantify because I’m not a dietician. However, I found myself eating a lot more fruits than before and as much as I love coffee, my intake decreased dramatically.

No Deep Dive

This post was a skim over the surface of some of the benefits of Mountain Biking regularly enjoyed by me and many thousands of riders worldwide. It’s a door opened on some of the benefits of which there are more than I’ve mentioned here.

There are no rules about who can and who can’t, but I strongly advise that you speak to a medical professional if you have any doubts because of your health.

You can race if you want to, simply enjoy the outdoors or pull mind-blowing stunts. The choice is entirely yours but get out there and just ride at your level. It’s all about you.

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