Can Cycling Help Your Brain?

There’s even more great news about the benefits of exercise…I’ll just let Bicycling magazine tell you about it:

We know that cardio exercise like cycling is good for your brain, and that lower-body strength training is good for your cycling. Now, a study published in Gerontology reports that there’s a compelling connection between lower-body power and enduring brain health. More simply put: Powerful legs mean a strong brain in old age.  

In the study, a team of researchers from King’s College in London measured the leg power and cognitive ability of 324 twins ages 43 to 73, then tested their thinking, learning, and memory again 10 years later. At the end of the decade, the twins who had more leg power when the study began better sustained their cognitive ability and brain health than their weaker-legged counterparts.

What’s most interesting about this particular study is that it measured not just leg strength, but leg power, which means not just how much you can lift, but also your muscular force and speed, or the ability to do a lot of work—like, say, hammer a bike up a hill. It’s yet another argument for cyclists to lift a little aggressively, focusing on not just strength and stability, but also explosive power—something some riders are still reluctant to include in workouts.

In the article, Bicycling magazine provides several weight-training workouts to help increase leg strength.

As a cyclist, I know how effective riding a real bike is for increasing leg strength and power, especially if you live in a mountainous region like I do. It takes a lot of leg strength and muscular endurance to carry yourself up a long climb. If you don’t train properly, you won’t make it to the summit.

As an indoor cycling instructor for 20 years now, I also know that it is possible to simulate that experience if—and this is a very big IF—you ride at the correct cadence and resistance ranges indoors. 

Not all the techniques that are so common in some indoor cycling classes will provide the benefit of leg strength and power that this study would have encountered. For those that prefer to pedal at super high cadences with very low resistance or to flop around on the bike or to lift minuscule weights, you can leave the brain benefits to those of us who ride correctly! Why? Because that stuff won’t get your legs any stronger.

A power meter would prove it.

Yet another reason to #keepitreal and #rideright!

[social_sharing style=”style-3″ fb_like_url=”” fb_color=”light” fb_lang=”en_US” fb_text=”like” fb_button_text=”Share” tw_text=” Can Cycling Help Your Brain?” tw_lang=”en” tw_url=”” tw_name=”sagecycling” tw_button_text=”Share” g_url=”” g_lang=”en-US” g_button_text=”Share” alignment=”center”]

1 Comment

  1. This study joins others in showing that the connection between mind and body is much more complex than we had long thought. One of the best ways to feel better is to move our bodies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *