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The 15 Benefits Of Mountain Biking | Why start mountain biking

Oftentimes we find ourselves searching for the perfect sport that will make us healthier, stronger, and will definitely improve our life. In this search, we analyze the benefits of the many alternatives that come our way. So in regards to biking, we have to ask ourselves: What are the benefits of mountain biking?

Mountain biking is a sport that brings many health benefits. The most important benefits are the improvement of the cardiovascular system and lung capacity. People engaged in mountain biking tend to be happier, live a longer and healthier life than sedentary people.

In this article, we will cover in great detail all the important benefits of mountain biking. If you plan to get a mountain bike and are wondering what you have to gain by investing in this great sport, then keep reading,

1. Improves the Cardiovascular System (The Health of Your Heart)

Mountain biking is full-body training that makes your heart accelerate and pump blood faster to your muscles. In time this will strengthen the heart and will lower the risk of cardiovascular problems like stroke and high blood pressure. Obviously, the heart is the most important organ, without a healthy heart, no other organ can function properly.

Mountain biker looking at view

The benefits of cycling on the human heart are so obvious that doctors prescribe aerobic cycling to patients after a chronic stroke. A study done by NCBI concluded that aerobic cycling training can favorably modify HRR in stroke survivors.

The study was done on a number of 128 participants with a chronic stroke that were randomized to a 12-week (5×/week) progressive aerobic cycling training group.

Conclusion: Aerobic cycling training can favorably modify HRR in stroke survivors. Rapid HRR, as an indicator of enhanced autonomic function, is useful for predicting gains in cardiovascular fitness. These findings indicate the underlying importance of autonomic modulation on cardiovascular adaptations to stroke exercise rehabilitation.

Jin H, Jiang Y, Wei Q, Chen L, Ma G. Effects of aerobic cycling training on cardiovascular fitness and heart rate recovery in patients with chronic stroke. NeuroRehabilitation. 2013;32(2):327-35. DOI: 10.3233/NRE-130852. PMID: 23535796.

Now imagine if aerobic cycling training had such a great impact on the recovery of people that are stroke victims, how beneficial mountain biking or cycling is in general for maintaining the health of your cardiovascular system. Why live unhealthily and be forced to do aerobic cycling after you suffer a stroke when you can have a lot of fun mountain biking and live a long life with the chance of having a stroke reduced to the minimum.

2. Improves Lung Capacity

Main Mountain Biking Benefits
Illustration of the most important mountain biking benefits

As you are cycling your lungs pump harder and harder to fuel your bloodstream with more oxygen, this allows you to pedal harder. After the oxygen reaches your muscles, as a result of the energy produced at the cellular level, it is turned to carbon dioxide. For this reason, you need to breathe out to get rid of carbon dioxide.

When you are mountain biking you need a lot of energy, this will force your lungs to pump more oxygen into the bloodstream. As a result, you will bread harder and your lungs will expand more so the oxygen intake is increased. The amount your lungs expand is limited by your ribcage but still, your lungs have room to expand approximately 15% of their volume.

In the long term, your maximum lung capacity will improve by 5-15%. As a result, the efficiency of your lung function will improve.

3. Mountain Biking Is a Full-Body Workout

As the title suggests, when you are mountain biking all your muscles are involved. This haze great benefits in the long run on your self-esteem, as you get leaner and more muscular, you get a bust in confidence.

Your legs are getting the most workout, in time you will get a lot of compliments and a lot of guys will envy you, as legs are the most overlooked part in the gym. A bonus is the development of your legs, as you know that your legs will be the most envied part of the body.

The main advantage of a full-body workout is that all your muscles develop at the same time and you get a well proportionate body with an athletic appearance, you will look well balanced upper and lower body. This is a great plus for attracting the opposed sex.

4. Great For Weight Loss

Mountain biking is a great way to lose some extra pounds accumulated from bad eating habits or sedentary life. On every ride you go from high intensity to low intensity regularly, this increases the metabolic rate and you continue to burn calories after the training session is over, even when you are resting.

So if you are forced to switch from low to high intensity often, this means that mountain biking is a high interval cardio type of training. On your rides, you will encounter all types of terrain. You will have portions of your rides that will be downhill, some portions you have to climb a big hill, some portions will be on flat surfaces, some will be very technical trails, you cath the point (High-Low-High-Low).

Now you know that by mountain biking you get all the advantages of a high-intensity cardio workout, this means that your metabolism speed will increase. You will burn a lot of calories while riding and after riding, the benefit of a fast metabolism. One of the advantages of mountain biking is that when you ride you train all the muscle groups at the same time, it is a full-body workout.

The more muscle you train at the same time the higher the number of calories you burn. You can increase the number of calories burned by riding faster and constantly changing the pace of pedaling and choosing routes that incorporate a lot of hill climbing. But realistically how many calories does a rider burn?

To answer this question we need to take into consideration the weight of the rider and how aggressive he rides. The more weight you have the more calories you burn at the same speed compared with a lighter rider.

Below are the approximate number of calories that man riders burns on one hour of mountain biking:

Weight/avg. speedLow speed 9.4mph (16km/h)Low intensity 10-12mph (16-19km/h)Medium intensity 12-14mph (19-22km/h)Hight intensity 14-16mph (22-26km/h)
132-154lb (60-70kg)370-400 kcal434-470 kcal510-555 kcal640-695 kcal
156-176lb (71-80kg)406-435 kcal475-510 kcal560-600 kcal700-750 kcal
178-198lb (81-90kg)439-468 kcal514-548 kcal605-645 kcal755-805 kcal
200-220lb (91-100kg)470-500 kcal550-586 kcal650-690 kcal812-862 kcal
+220lb (+100kg)504+ kcal590+ kcal695+ kcal870+ kcal

Below are the approximate number of calories that women riders burns on one hour of mountain biking:

Weight/avg. speedLow speed 9.4mph (16km/h)Low intensity 10-12mph (16-19km/h)Medium intensity 12-14mph (19-22km/h)Hight intensity 14-16mph (22-26km/h)
110-132lb (50-60kg)314-335 kcal368-395 kcal434-464 kcal632-677 kcal
134-154lb (61-70kg)395-419 kcal465-490 kcal545-578 kcal682-722 kcal
156-176lb (71-80kg)420-445 kcal494-522 kcal581-615 kcal727-767 kcal
178-198lb (81-90kg)448-471 kcal525-552 kcal617-650 kcal772-812 kcal
200-220lb (91-100kg)474-495 kcal555-583 kcal653-686 kcal817-857 kcal

5. Maintaining Joint Health

Mountain biking is a great way to lose weight without putting extra stress on your joints. When you are overweight and start jogging or powerwalking, all the extra weight you carry will be felt on your joints. In time you will experience joint pain. Luckily there is a way to train without damaging your joints, in this situation cycling will be your best friend.

When you ride your mountain bike on trails or roads, you will be sitting on the saddle and all the extra weight you carry will be handled by the bike. All the stress your joints need to handle will derive from the pedaling power you need to produce to move forward.

In our days most of the mountain bikes on the market come with a front suspension that will absorb most of the bumps on the front wheel, this will protect the joints on your hands. On the safer side if you what to protect your lower back, get a full-suspension mountain bike. The back shock (suspension) will absorb the road bumps from the back wheel.

6. Helps Regulate Blood Sugar

When you are mountain biking you use all your muscles to conquer all the obstacles on the trails, as a result, your muscles will use the glucose reserve of your body. Over time, this can lower your blood sugar levels, regular cardio exercises will lower up to 50% of the risk of type 2 diabetes.

7. Aids Sleep

People that work a nine-to-five office job oftentimes confront themselves with the problem of sleep degradation. The problem here is that they accumulate a lot of mental fatigue and not physical fatigue, many people declared that after an intense session of physical exercises tend to sleep better and wake up fresh and well-rested.

As a general rule, the quality of sleep is drastically influenced by the level of stress and the level of sedentariness of a person. To improve sleep quality we need to commit to at least half an hour of intense physical activity (cycling, jogging, swimming, etc.) every day.

8. Strengthens The Immune System

As we all know, athletes and cyclists have a great immunity system, and despite the unfavorable conditions of training they rarely get sick. There are many studies that show the benefits of physical activity such as cycling.

Research made by NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre in Inflammation on 125 adults (55–79 years) who had maintained a high level of physical activity (cycling) for much of their adult lives concludes that cyclists showed additional evidence of reduced immunosenescence and a higher number of T cells.

The study primarily focused on analyzing T-cell markers in the blood, which are commonly lower as we age. T-cells are white blood cells that play a key role in adaptive immunity and building a healthy immune system overall.

Major features of immunesenescence, including reduced thymic output, are ameliorated by high levels of physical activity in adulthood

Niharika Arora Duggal, Ross D. Pollock, Norman R. Lazarus, Stephen Harridge, Janet M. Lord

9. Decreased Risk Of Diseases

According to Patient.info physical activity can prevent a number of chronic diseases:

Doing regular physical activity can make you feel good about yourself and it can have a number of benefits for your health. For example, it reduces the risk of developing heart diseasestrokehigh blood pressure, many cancerstype 2 diabetes, and ‘thinning’ of the bones (osteoporosis).

Authored by 
Dr. Jacqueline Payne, Reviewed by Dr. Helen Huins | Last edited 2 Jul 2018 | Meets Patient’s editorial guidelines

The best decision you can make is to incorporate physical activity such as cycling into your daily routine. Your future self will be grateful.

10. Improved mental wellbeing

As a general rule people that do one hour of intense physical activity such as cycling have a reduced risk of suffering from depression and anxiety.

This fact is empowered by a study made by Psychosomatic Medicine. A total of 202 adults (153 women; 49 men) diagnosed with major depression were assigned randomly to one of four conditions:

  • group exercises
  • exercises at home
  • antidepressant medication
  • placebo pills for 16 weeks

The efficacy of exercise in patients seems generally comparable with patients receiving antidepressant medication and both tend to be better than the placebo in patients with MDD. Placebo response rates were high, suggesting that a considerable portion of the therapeutic response is determined by patient expectations, ongoing symptom monitoring, attention, and other nonspecific factors.

Blumenthal JA, Babyak MA, Doraiswamy PM, Watkins L, Hoffman BM, Barbour KA, Herman S, Craighead WE, Brosse AL, Waugh R, Hinderliter A, Sherwood A. Exercise and pharmacotherapy in the treatment of major depressive disorder. Psychosom Med. 2007 Sep-Oct;69(7):587-96. DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e318148c19a. Epub 2007 Sep 10. PMID: 17846259; PMCID: PMC2702700.
Sunset on a MTB

Every time that I feel sad or I am in a bad mood, I force myself to go on a long ride with my mountain bike. After a good sweat, I feel like I am born again, bad moves tend to go away and my overall mental state tends to significantly improve.

11. Great Way To Reduce Stress

We live in very stressful times, everybody is on the run and we face financial pressure every day. It becomes almost impossible to avoid stress, so we are in despread need of a good way to release all the accumulated stress during the day.

Mountain biking is a great way to disconnect from the day-to-day problems that have a negative effect on our stress levels. It is proven that intense physical exercises like cycling help to improve our mental wellbeing and reduce stress.

Stress is one of the causes of a lot of cardiovascular diseases like strokes and dramatically increases the aging of the body. In conclusion, we must not ignore a high-stress level, it can cause serious damage to our health. The best way to fight against stress is intense physical activity, mountain biking is at intense as they get.

12. Great Community and Socializing Opportunity

One of the best communities I knew is the mountain biking groups from my area, I was really impressed by the quality of people that joins these groups. Here I made a lot of great new friends and now we are all united by a great passion – mountain biking. Frankly the same stands for the online communities (Facebook, Pinterest, etc).

13. Enjoy the nature

Before I started mountain biking I never realized how many amazing landscapes are around my city, now I feel blessed every day that I ride my bike. When I come back from work I can wait to take my bike on a ride and enjoy the amazing beauty of nature around me.

14. It is fun

Many of us remember the fun days of childhood when we played in puddles and mud, now we can relive those moments all over again by mountain biking, and riding a bike is a lot of fun no doubt.

If you are thinking that mountain biking is hard to learn, then you need to read this article: Is mountain biking easy to learn?

15. Versatility

A mountain bike is a good all-around bike, you can commute to work with it or go grocery shopping. Practically you will have a good bike that can handle every challenge, all that is left for you to do is enjoy your rides.

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I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.