Mountain–biking has many demonstrated health benefits. Increased life-expectancy and disease reduction is something all people should be aiming for. Structured team sports are not always a good fit for many people, and this can lead to missed opportunities for beneficial exercise.
According to 2014 – 2015 census data provided by the Heart Foundation, statistics for the City of Albany give an inactivity rate of 67%, making inactivity the main contributing risk factor towards heart disease. Chronic illnesses and poor mental health can have major impacts on both society and individually, and reducing these risks is highly achievable with some of the many benefits mountain biking provides. Mountain-biking is considered to be a moderate intensity exercise opening it up to a wide range of people of varying ages and fitness levels. The sport can be taken from a leisurely pace (while still providing health benefits) all the way to endurance and competition levels. Adding the downhill element to this sport will give a full body workout with likely beneficial effects on blood pressure, muscular endurance as well as helping to maintain the uptake of insulin-mediated glucose for diabetics.
Both national and international studies have shown clear evidence that this pastime ranks highly among sports such as hockey, basketball and non-competitive cross-country skiing in aerobic physical demands. Health benefits are accessible to all levels of riders and within relatively short timeframes. Participants of a 6–week short sporting program in the Netherlands called Start2Bike, aimed towards inactive adults and novice adult cyclers, demonstrated positive health improvements and maintained ongoing health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) levels. Over 75% of the test participants were still bike riding more than 6 months after the program had ended leading to ongoing physical and mental health benefits.
Mountain Biking: Nature based excersise
Exercising in nature provides multiple benefits on top of those gained through mountain biking alone. Not only does physical activity improve both physical and mental health, evidence indicates that regular engagement in natural environments leads to significant positive mental health outcomes. These outcomes have shown decreases in depression, stress and mental health complaints with improvements in mood, restoring attention and decreasing anger. Children benefited greatly with evidence showing that contact with nature improved their overall mental well-being, resiliency, and quality of life, while reducing stress and aggressive behaviour. Cognitive benefits that became evident for children were improvements in attention, intellectual activity and reduction in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms.