May 08, 2018 Healthy Living

The Health Benefits of Biking in New York

With spring temperatures finally here, it’s time to dust off the bicycle seat, oil the chain, and get out there to explore the bustling cities and the scenic mountain trails in and around the Capital Region. More than just a way to get around, bicycling strengthens your heart, reduces stress, improves your immune system, and more.

Lucky for us, New York State offers something for every cyclist – rolling hills, scenic views, and urban locales. Whether you’re a casual or serious rider, you can find a spot that’s nearby and suitable for your needs and fitness level.

What are the health benefits of biking?

Health Benefits of Biking #bike4health

Should you decide to try one of the bike trails near you or ride a stationary bike in a gym or your home, you’ll reap some tremendous health benefits.

Physical health benefits of biking:
How many calories do you burn bicycling? If you ride for 40 minutes twice a week, you could burn about 3,000 extra calories—or about a pound of fat—each month!

Want to prevent heart disease? Cycling 20 miles per week may reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent.

Do you have sore, stiff joints from high-impact activities? Riding a bike puts less stress on your knees, ankles, and spine than walking or running.

Health benefits of biking for your brain:
In addition to the physical benefits, biking can help improve your brain health. When you exercise, you force your nerve cells to work hard. Your neurons light up, promoting the creation of certain proteins that form new brain cells. In essence, when you exert your body through exercise, you build your brain.

Physical activity also encourages neurotransmitters, which send messages between brain cells, to function more efficiently. As we age, those connections naturally weaken, which means that exercise becomes even more necessary for reinforcing them. Studies have shown that regular cycling increases energy levels by up to 20 percent and can decrease fatigue by 65 percent.

Emotional health benefits of biking:
Cycling has been shown to relieve anxiety and offer other emotional benefits. One recent study indicated that even 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day can prevent depression. If you can surpass 30 minutes, you might find that cycling yields even greater psychological power, including the release of endorphins that provide a natural mood lift. Also, regular cycling can make you feel less stressed or anxious because it helps regulate hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Benefits of biking on longevity:
Researchers have analyzed how exercise—specifically biking—can actually help an older person pay better attention and make quicker decisions when driving a car.

In a study of bicyclists in their 60s and 70s, it was determined that the cyclists were more able to detect complex targets, had a faster response time, and functioned better overall than sedentary individuals of the same age. Compared to other types of exercise, the bicyclists had a clear advantage over other seniors when making a quick decision in response to a situation.

In other words, if you exercise regularly when you’re young, you could have less memory loss as you get older, better health, and fewer road or other accidents, which means you can remain independent longer.

Ready to go? Discover bike trails near you!

Whether you crave the smooth gliding of riding on pavement or the adventure of a wooded trail, there are plenty of options to choose from. And even if you find yourself without your own set of wheels, you can take advantage of the CDPHP Cycle!™ locations around the Capital Region. The bike-sharing program is convenient and easy to use. Just download the app, find a location, and get going!

Take an easy ride through Albany, Schenectady, Troy, or Saratoga. Or venture into nature on any of the more than 100 bike and multi-use paths in New York state.

No matter where your journey on two wheels takes you, you’re sure to experience sights and sounds you can only find when you hit the trail.

Kristin Schultz
About the Author

Kristin came to CDPHP in 2018 and is a communications specialist. She writes and edits content for use in internal and external communications. She has a background in journalism, and most recently worked for a local daily newspaper. Kristin has also been a staff writer for a monthly food and beverage magazine in the Midwest. She loves learning new things and trying new food. She will never turn down a bowl of noodles or falafel. Kristin likes to travel and explore with her husband and two children.

16 Responses to “The Health Benefits of Biking in New York”

  1. TJ

    Don’t forget the Zim Smith Trail! 9 miles from Halfmoon to Ballston Spa, combo of paved and crushed stone

    • Suzanne Huwe

      Hi, TJ. Thank you for sharing the Zim Smith Trail! It looks like a great way to explore Saratoga County. Enjoy your biking adventures and please continue to share your favorites. #bike4health ~ Suzanne

      • Nate

        I was going to mention the Zim Smith trail as well, there is also a small off-road portion located off English road (small state parking lot) within Ushers Road State Forest. Just down the road in Ballston Lake (right next to Carney’s Tavern, off of rt 146A) there is a trail that begins next to the train tracks that takes you north to Ballston Spa near the High School

        • Suzanne Huwe

          Hello, Nate: Thank you for the comment. Yes, it sounds like Zim Smith is the place to go for biking in Saratoga County. Thanks so much for adding the details. They will definitely help our members find these wonderful biking spots and #bike4health. ~ Suzanne

  2. John Kessler

    You don’t list the Old Erie Canal Trail in Syracuse. They just blacktopped a 4.5 mile section beyond the Butternuts Aqueduct. This trail extends all the way to the Erie Canal Village in Rome with only a small section of street riding.

    • Suzanne Huwe

      Dear John, Thank you for sharing! Sounds like a newly paved riding trail would be a good choice for people interested in Central New York biking. ~ Suzanne

  3. Wally Elton

    I am involved with several groups, such as the Saratoga County-wide Trails Committee, and would be happy to help update your information. Besides the Zim Smith, a major trail, you missed the 9-mile Feeder Canal Trail in Glens Falls, and the emerging Champlain Canalway Trail is in Saratoga and Washington Counties.

    • Suzanne Huwe

      Hi, Wally: Thank you for adding the Glens Falls Feeder Canal Trail and the Champlain Canalway Trail. Those sound like fantastic opportunities for some great biking. If your friends or other members of your organization have favorite bike trails, please encourage them to share their suggestions with us. We’d love to hear from them. Thank you for taking the time to comment! ~ Suzanne

  4. Ellen O'Brien

    Do you know if there is any place in the Capital District that teach older adults how to ride a bike and guide them in bike selections and the correct gear to use? I use to ride a bike like 35 years ago but would love to try again.

  5. Bryan

    Bicycling is most fun in groups. I would recommend you also include biking clubs in the different areas. I recommend hrrtonline(dot)com for the capital region.

    • Suzanne Huwe

      Hi, Bryan. Thank you for that suggestion! Yes, biking in groups is definitely a fun, social experience. In fact, research shows that there are lots of ‘Buddy Benefits’ to fitness with friends. We appreciate your sharing the website for your cycling group, and encourage your friends to also share their experiences. ~ Suzanne

  6. Michael

    How could you leave out the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, with 22 miles of trail, it is the gateway to Mohonk Preserve, Minnewaska and beyond. It’s also next to SUNY New Paltz, passes through the towns of Gardiner, New Paltz & Rosendale and currently ends just 1.4 miles from the historic Stockade District in Kingston. Plans currently in the works will link it to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, the Walkway Over Hudson and the Dutchess County Rail Trail. Additionally it will connect to the Kingston Greenline, an urban trail in Kingston, the Ontario & Western Rail Trail and in another two years with a new rail trail all the way to Phoenicia.

    • Suzanne Huwe

      Thanks for the great information, Michael! Sounds like the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is a fantastic place to #bike4health. We’re fortunate that we have so many biking options that are suitable for all fitness levels across New York state. We appreciate your sharing this one with our members. ~ Suzanne

  7. Biker Roben

    Great info and your infographics is so informative, thanks for the great work.

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