Mental health: What are the benefits of cycling as a Shannon Brescher Shea’s nine-year-old son had trouble concentrating and following directions at home and at school. But after riding his bike (be it at the park or at school), he felt calmer.
Shea’s experience is not unique. Science has repeatedly shown that physical activity helps improve mental health. “Exercise is best for every organ in the body, regardless of age, including the brain,” says Allan Reiss, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and director of the Department of Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences at the College of Medicine at Stanford University (US).
And while any exercise helps, there’s a growing body of research showing that cycling is among the activities that can do the most to improve mental health. “Our research shows that children who ride bikes at least once a week report greater psychological well-being,” says cognitive scientist Esther Walker, director of research programs at Outride, a nonprofit organization that researches cycling and supports youth programs.
At a time when young people’s mental health is in crisis, cycling is an opportunity that families may not have taken full advantage of. If you own a bike or have access to one, here’s what you need to know to start reaping the benefits of cycling.
Recent research has shown that aerobic exercise is associated with improved cognitive functioning, such as attention and academic performance. However, some experts believe that the improvements can be even more noticeable when we get on a bike.
Scientists aren’t sure why that is, […]