Like you need any more reasons to ride.

There’s nothing that’s better than mountain biking for giving your whole body – and mind – a complete workout. Of course you can use specific training tools to get fit for mountain biking, but the activity itself provides valuable exercise. We aren’t necessarily talking about thrashing yourself to death on the best cross-country mountain bikes until you’re coughing up a lung. Pretty much any form of mountain biking is great.

Why is mountain biking the best way to stay fit and healthy? Let us count the ways…

1. Heart

Mountain biking is an excellent form of cardio work-out. Although it may not feel like it as you’re dying a death on the way up some godforsaken climb, biking gives your blood an increase in oxygen. Biking improves your blood vessels by dilating them and keeping them clear.

2. Blood pressure

Biking wards off hypertension (another term for high blood pressure).

Long climbs in big country

3. Lungs

Your lungs’ performance can improve by a whopping 25% compared to your average couch potato.

4. Muscles

There are few activities that give your body as thorough going-over as mountain biking. Specifically your muscles. Pretty much all of them.

5. Stamina

Any mountain biker knows that it’s impossible to avoid long grinds or extended bouts of endurance on a mountain bike ride.

6. Joints

No, not those kind. Unlike other activities that boast similar (or better) calorie-burning qualities – running, for example – mountain biking doesn’t beat up your joints (or muscles) as bad. Well, not if you’re doing it right anyway.

Specialized Atlas knee pads

Belt up!

7. Waistline

It’s hard to quantify because different riders ride at different amplitudes but, as an average, mountain biking is supposed to burn anywhere up to 1,000 calories per hour of doing it. It also ups your metabolic rate. Which is why some riders can eat shedloads and still be skinny rakes.

Grit in yer teeth grinning

8. Mood

We all know this one. You feel better during – and especially after – a mountain bike ride. There’s a scientific reason for this; biking produces the stress hormone norepinephrine which is proved to improve a person’s mood.

9. Attitude

Kinda related to the above point but this is more to do with engendering a can-do attitude. Cleaning a tricky climb or simply completing a ride will all help you approach your non-bike life in a better way.

10. Brain

Cycling in general apparently builds new brain cells in your hippocampus. Which will hopefully make up for all the cells we lose when we crash our brains out.

11. Reflexes

Again, related to the point above about brain cells, one of the most demanding and this rewarding aspects of mountain biking is dealing with things quickly as they come at you.

Good point, well made…

How could we miss this aspect? Kudos to AustinCyclist for pointing this out. Mountain biking is a great form of exercise because it doesn’t actually feel like it’s exercise! It doesn’t feel like a chore. It’s something we all look forward to doing.

The physical benefits are pretty much secondary to the reason we ride: fun!

Uswitch research

As part of a PR campaign, Uswitch recently analysed the health benefits of various action and adventure sports. Here’s what they said about mountain biking:

“The average person can burn approximately 680 calories per hour during a moderate mountain bike ride, making it one of the best outdoor activities for losing weight. However, with so many variables involved in mountain biking such as the surface terrain, bike mass and the condition of the rider themselves amongst, the calories burned per rider can massively vary.

“From increased strength to an improved immune system the physical health benefits of mountain biking are endless. One of the things that makes mountain biking so beneficial is that it is a ‘green exercise’ meaning it is an activity that takes place in nature. Many health professionals regard green exercises as ‘nature’s medicine’ due to the double-dose of endorphins released by the physical activity combined with the feeling of being outdoors.

“Additionally, being out in the open all day is a great source of vitamin D as bikers naturally soak up the sun. Although over-exposure to sunlight is considered a risk, research shows that 86% of Europeans are actually Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is important for your bones, skin and weight management, so mountain biking is a great way to increase your exposure to natural sunlight.

“All that Vitamin D naturally increases your body’s melatonin levels. Melatonin is a vital hormone which is responsible for regulating your sleep cycle. Therefore mountain biking during the day can help to improve your sleep at night, resulting in lower stress levels and a positive impact on your mental health.”