According to the Shimano Research Group, more than 50 million Americans have tried mountain biking [source: Shimano]. While this seems like a huge number, it's nothing compared to the huge benefits that this sport offers in terms of physical and emotional well-being.
Mountain biking isn't only an adventure: It can also help you stay fit. Depending on the speed of your rides and the terrain you're covering, mountain biking can burn between 10 and 16 calories a minute, or 600 to 1,000 calories per hour. At that rate, biking can help you lose extra pounds or maintain your current weight. Over time, biking can increase muscle strength, improve cardiovascular health and help you build endurance that will carry over to other parts of your life. Biking just two to three hours a week can improve your lung capacity by up to 20 percent, making hiking up the stairs in your home a breeze [source: Adams].
Beyond its physical benefits, this sport also offers a number of emotional benefits that contribute to an overall sense of happiness and well-being. According to Dr. Andrew Lepp at Kent State University, outdoor activities can prevent and reduce stress, increase self-esteem, and offer a sense of challenge and adventure. Mountain biking also provides social benefits, and can help riders build a strong community [source: Lepp].
As mountain biking becomes increasingly popular, it's also becoming a major economic influence. Between local and destination biking, this sport contributes an estimated $26 billion to the U.S. economy each year. This spending includes retail sales of bikes and equipment, tourism and services directly related to expanding biking to a wider audience. A Shimano study indicates that for every one dollar spent on trail investment for biking, the United States realizes a benefit of three dollars in health-related savings as riders lose weight and get fit [source: Shimano].
Even those simply looking for outdoor adventures are sure to enjoy the many mountain biking benefits that come along for the ride.