Biking Your Way to Better Brain Health and Happiness

Brain chemistry researchers show connection between cycling and a clearer mind

Life on a college campus can be intellectually stimulating and fun, but also pretty stressful at times. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources to help you manage stress on campus, such as these.

Physical activity is another healthy and enjoyable option for keeping stress at bay. Research shows it can improve your mood and help you think more clearly, too.

“As soon as our lab rats start running on their wheels, they get a 100-200% increase in serotonin levels,” said J. David Glass, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at Kent State University.

Brain health researchers, including Glass, have conducted studies that show the connection between cycling and increased happiness and brainpower. According to a recent article from the Indoor Cycling Association promoting this research and the many benefits of cycling, even a brief spin can “elevate your mood, relieve anxiety, increase stress resistance, and even banish the blues.”

While the exact mechanisms aren’t clear (yet), the research shows that cycling can boost the production of feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin. After cycling for just 20-30 minutes, other happiness chemicals such as endorphins and cannabinoids start flooding in. Additionally, the research shows that biking regularly helps keep stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol under control.

If you’d like to use cycling as a “prescription” for better brain health and less stress, the research says to aim for 30-60 minutes at 50-85% of your maximum heart rate. Do this three to five times a week and you’ll see a smarter, happier version of you in no time.

Check out indoor cycling classes at Kent State.


POSTED: Wednesday, October 18, 2023 11:22 AM
Updated: Monday, January 29, 2024 11:36 AM
Amy Antenora