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Published on December 24th, 2012 | by Chelsea


Biking Benefits Body & Brain

December 24th, 2012 by  

Biking is virtually all good news: Saves money, saves the planet, keeps people healthier, is fashionable among the rich and famous, can reduce prison sentences. And now, studies are pointing to brain benefits from biking.

Danish researchers were looking at the benefits of breakfast and lunch on school children and found that how the children got to school was actually of great importance. They found that the kids who walked or rode their bikes did better on tests than those who got to school by car or public transport.

John Ratey, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told The Independent that he’s seen patients with severe depression greatly improve after cycling. Ratey says that a current study his department is working on includes 20 children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who are all expected to show improved symptoms after cycling. He says cycling, like Ritalin, increases levels of neurotransmitters.

It’s not just kids who see benefits in concentration and coordination from cycling. Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute neuroscientist Dr. Jay Alberts conducted a cycling-based experiment with 26 Parkinson’s disease patients. Alberts scanned the patients’ brains during and then a month after the eight-week stationary bike experiment. All the patients showed improvement, but the experiment showed that the 13 participants who were pushed to cycle harder had significantly more areas of grey matter connectivity.

Even more astonishing is the New England Journal of Medicine Youtube video of a 58-year-old patient with a 10-year history of Parkinson’s barely able to shuffle down a hospital corridor who then gets on a bike and pedals through the parking lot with incredible balance and ease. Check it out:

Source: Planetizen
Image:  Woman’s silhouette with bicycle mechanism in her brain via Shutterstock

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About the Author

is a former newspaper reporter who has spent the past few years teaching English in Poland, Finland and Japan. When she wasn't teaching or writing, Chelsea was traveling Europe and Asia, sampling spicy street food along the way.

  • yoshhash

    I have an eccentric 85 year old father who won’t stop riding his bike despite recently being hospitalized for being hit from behind by a car and almost getting killed. I admire him for his spirit, but I am having a hell of a time making him stop for the sake of his own safety. I can’t help but grin whenever I tell this story though.

    • perhaps he realizes that it helps his brain (and body)… as long as he doesn’t collide with cars.

    • The first thought that came to mind is how on Earth an 85 year old rides a bike.

      I think that is probably because of the exercise he gained from riding it in the first place.

      I don’t know any 80+ year old people that can ride bikes. They can barely walk.

      I have something in common with him. I do what I love to do.

      Age does not have to be a sentence to the couch “playing it safe” for the rest of his life. 🙂

      That might be why he was able to recover from the injury too.

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