Health Bit: Your Brain on Biking

It goes without saying that riding your bike around will give you some physical health benefits. Turns out, it also boosts your mental acuity. Exercise in general is good for your brain, but pedaling in particular forces more nerve cells to fire, researchers have found.

Screen shot 2014-07-23 at 10.59.17 AMThis article from Bicycling.com explains: “As these neurons light up, they intensify the creation of proteins like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and a compound called noggin (yes, really), which promote the formation of new brain cells. The result: You double or triple the production of neurons—literally building your brain…You also release neurotransmitters (the messengers between your brain cells) so all those cells, new and old, can communicate with each other for better, faster functioning.

“This kind of growth is especially important with each passing birthday, because as we age, our brains shrink and those connections weaken. Exercise restores and protects the organ, says Arthur Kramer, PhD, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ‘Our research finds that after only three months, people who exercised had the brain volume of those three years younger,’ says Kramer, referring to a study that examined the brains of 59 sedentary volunteers between the ages of 60 and 79 who either did an exercise program or were inactive for six months.”

So if you’re searching for the fountain of youth, maybe you should start by dusting off your bike!

                                                                                                                 Image via Bicycling.com

 

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