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Not all mountain biking is careening down a steep hill at break-neck speeds. Sometimes its just getting off the roads and into a more natural setting. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider this fun sport!
Who doesn’t love climbing up a mountain? But mountain biking allows you to do so at a faster pace than hiking or running. It’s a perfect exercise for people who’d like a little more speed and intensity in their lives.
Mountain biking will get you off the beaten path and out in nature like few other fitness activities will. Unlike road cycling, mountain biking allows you to say goodbye to traffic, potholes, bike lanes and stop signs. The catch, of course, is you might have to pave your own path once in a while, or jump a few logs here and there.
3) It’s an Awesome Workout
The inclines and rugged terrain involved in mountain biking translate to greater health benefits than ordinary road cycling. Not only does mountain biking dramatically strengthen the cardiovascular system, it also improves endurance, mental stamina, muscle coordination, lung function and muscle tone (particularly in the lower body, including glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors and more). It has been cited that, a recent study by the British Medical Association, riding a bicycle for at least 20 miles per week was associated with a nearly 50% decreased risk of coronary heart disease. The health benefits of mountain biking are not just physical either. Improvements in cardio-respiratory function among cyclists led to a 15 percent improvement in memory tests, according to researchers from Illinois University. They suggest that cycling strengthens the production of new brain cells in areas of the brain responsible for memory.
4) It’s Low-Impact
Along with being a good workout, mountain biking is also low impact, putting significantly less stress on the knees and hips many than other aerobic workouts like running. In fact, biking is perfect for people who are overweight and hoping to get in shape—it allows you to push your body as hard as you want without putting undue stress on your joints. It is also a great cross training activity for long distance runners and other athletes. That said, while biking places does not stress the knees from impact, it is still possible to injure the knee if your bike is not properly adjusted for your height and leg length. Before each ride, make sure your saddle height is high enough that your legs fully extend when pushing the pedals towards the ground. If your knee is bent, raise the bike seat higher—if you are having to strain your hips to fully push the pedal down, then lower the seat. Stretching the calves, hamstrings, glutes and quads after each ride is also necessary to guard against long-term injury.
5) New Heights
Mountain biking takes you to new heights—literally and figuratively. Each new mountain you ascend by bike opens up new vistas on your life, lending a greater sense of confidence to struggles and daily anxieties.