4 Ways Indoor Cycling Can Make You Smarter

4 Ways Indoor Cycling Can Make You Smarter

By now, you know that regular indoor cycling provides numerous head-to-toe benefits, including enhanced cognitive performance. But you may not have a pulse on the precise ways this high-intensity, sweat-‘til-you’re-drenched form of exercise can boost your brainpower. First, you should know there’s a sweet spot as far as the duration and intensity goes: Many studies have found that sessions up to 60 minutes are most beneficial; after that, you can reach a point of diminishing returns due to exercise-induced fatigue. 

What’s more, a 2009 study from Brazil found that after physically active women cycled at an intensity of 90 percent of their anaerobic threshold (the point at which the body can no longer meet its demand for oxygen because so much power and speed are being exhibited in a short stretch of time), they gained significant improvements in various aspects of their cognitive performance; however, the same wasn’t true after they exercised at 60 or 110 percent of their anaerobic threshold.

What follows are four specific ways regular indoor cycling workouts can boost your brain power and make you smarter, in less than an hour.  

It can enhance your ability to process a variety of information.

Research has found that cycling on a stationary bicycle for 40 minutes can improve the speed at which you process information during auditory tasks involving reaction time and can help you shift to an easier number generation strategy. (This is a prime example of how to work smarter rather than harder.) Similarly, a 2015 study from Iran found that a 30-minute cycling workout improves auditory reaction times and visual reaction times.

It can improve different types of memory function.

A 2015 study at The University of Iowa found that a 30-minute bout of moderate-intensity cycling on a stationary bicycle enhanced working memory performance in healthy young adults. By contrast, researchers at the University of Georgia found that cycling at a moderate pace for 40 minutes on a cycling ergometer facilitated the consolidation of information into long-term memory. 

It can boost your planning and problem-solving abilities.

These are considered part of your executive functions, a collection of important cognitive processes that also include task-flexibility, task-execution, and other mental functions that help you organize and manage your life. (Think of your executive functions as your brain's central management center.) A 2011 study from Taiwan found that cycling for 30 minutes at a moderate to vigorous intensity improved people’s ability to plan and execute a spatial problem-solving challenge.

It can elevate your reasoning skills.

A single 30-minute indoor cycling session can improve your performance on tasks that involve reasoning, according to a 2013 study from India. This may be partly because a 30-minute session of moderate aerobic exercise (at 51 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate) has been linked with improved concentration-related thinking abilities. The ultimate payoff: Stronger body, stronger brain!

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