The Pro Challenge does more for Colorado than bring fantastic riders to the state; it inspires everyone who encounters the race to set new fitness goals and to reach heights of their own. It is well known that riding is great for cardio as well as building endurance and stamina. Riding strengthens legs while simultaneously developing the core and refining muscle tone. The body’s metabolism is boosted with riding lasting in some cases for hours after a ride, helping with weight management.
Less well known and understood are the mental benefits of riding. Bicycling.com published an article titled, “Your Brain on Bicycling” in which Selene Yeager looks at the science behind brain health and cycling. As our bodies age and diminish in strength and vitality, so too do our brains. Exercise helps our bodies and our brains retain strength and capacity. Exercise has been found to pump more blood to the brain, stimulating the brain with more oxygen and nutrients. This surplus of energy boosts neurons and actually creates new brain cells. Arthur Kramer, PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign explains, “Our research finds that after only three months, people who exercised had the brain volume of those three years younger.”
Exercise not only keeps our brains younger and stronger, it improves memory, increases concentration and boosts problem solving. Scientists have found that just 30 minutes of pedaling shows marked improvements in each of these categories. However, strenuous exercise over an hour has not been shown to increase brain benefits, indicating that less than an hour’s worth of exercise produces the maximum brain boost.
In addition to making us smarter, cycling makes us happier too. Endorphins, serotonin and dopamine released during exercise have been shown to ward off depression over the long term with as little as twenty minutes of riding. In fact James Blumenthal, PhD professor of behavior medicine at Duke University asserts that exercise is as effective against depression and anxiety as medication and therapy. Furthermore, exercise helps cope with stress and build’s the body’s immunity to stress through the release of cortisol post-workout.
As Pro Cycling athletes race through Aspen, Crested Butte, Gunnison, Colorado Springs, Vail, Woodland Park, Breckenridge, Vail, Boulder and Denver, illustrating the fantastic achievement of their training and cycling abilities, fans, spectators and residents can find new inspiration not just for stronger healthier bodies, but also stronger healthier minds.
Join us at Aspen Club and Spa as we celebrate 2014’s Pro Cycling Challenge as we spin, cycle and chase total health.