Biking Your Way to Better Brain Power

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Psst…did you know that May is National Bike Month? I know, best kept secret, right?! We just found out ourselves and had to spread the news! Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, which interestingly enough has been around since 1880, bike month began in 1957 as a way to “…showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to give biking a try.”

They League encourages us all to get involved by planning bicycling events in our towns. They even offer promotional materials: a planning guide with posters, web info and social media resources to make the process smooth riding (pun intended). And if it feels a little too late to plan an event for May, any month will do. After all, the benefits of biking abound no matter what time of year.

Beyond the obvious physical and environmental advantages of bike riding, science has proven that cycling sharpens the mind as well. According to an article in Bicycling.com,neuroscientist Brian Christie, PhD, explains,

When you pedal, you also force more nerve cells to fire. 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, says Christie. 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.”

Of course you may be thinking that you are simply too long in the tooth to plan a biking event. To which we must respectfully disagree. While some of us still think of bicyclists as young, robust buckaroos or trendy hipsters at the very least, the environmental, physical, and mental rewards of bike riding have not escaped the aging and elderly in America.

As an article in People for Bikes so aptly puts it,

as the older Civil Rights Generation and the Baby Boomers who followed them have entered the last third of their lives, they've quietly transformed what it means to be the kind of person who rides a bicycle.”

In fact, according to data from The National Household Travel Survey, bike riding among people ages 60-79 accounted for 37 percent of the total nationwide increase in bike trips between 1995 and 2009.

It stands to reason with studies like this proving that there is no healthier way for seniors get where they are going while simultaneously turning back the hands of time.

So, whether you are young or old, heading to work or a weekend trip to the farmers market, hop on your bike to enjoy a good ride and help spread the word about the benefits of biking!

Sources: 
Read all articles by Juniper Briggs

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