Scientific Evidence That Biking Makes Us Happy

I ride my bike for exercise. I ride my bike for transportation (even throughout an icy Minnesota winter). I ride my bike because it’s better for the environment and better for my community than climbing behind the steering wheel every time I need more bread or wine or toilet paper. 

But the biggest reason I ride my bike-- in all weather day and night-- is because it makes me happy.  It’s meditation, therapy and pure hedonistic pleasure all rolled into one. Rarely do I wheel my beat-up old Trek back into the garage without a smile on my face.

I used to think this was just one of my own quirks, but new evidence keeps pouring in that bicycling boosts creativity, health and general well-beingifor many people.

Sarah Goodyear—an insightful urbanist blogger from Brooklyn—points to a Danish study showing that kids who bike (or walk) to school do better in class.  (Actually, these findings are an accident; the researched discovered this while studying the effects of diet on school performance.)  

But bikes aren't just for kids. Goodyear directs us to an article in Britain’s well-respected Independent newspaper that quotes Harvard Medical School Psychiatrist John Ratey saying:  “Cycling is also increasing a lot of the chemistry in your brain that make you peaceful and calm.”

Ratey goes on to describe riding a bike as “like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin.”  By which he means it's useful for treating both depression and ADHD. 

Goodyear’s conclusion:  “We need more research into cycling and brain science.”

My conclusion:  Time to take a bike ride.

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