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.
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.
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.