I’m a writer. It’s what I do for a living. I write mainly nonfiction, but I also dabble a bit in fiction. Before I sit down to the keyboard on any of my books, I have to create an outline, a guide of you will that tells me how to start and end the book, as well as what to put in the middle. Without the outline, I could spend hours writing something that just doesn’t work or, worse yet, doesn’t fit into the story. When creating an outline, instead of sitting and my desk in front of a blank computer screen until inspiration finally hits, I often climb on my bike and hit the trails. I find that as I ride, I think of the book and what I want to write about. Before the end of the trail, I usually have the entire outline worked out in my head and am ready to write when I get home—after I eat something of course.
All this got me to thinking, is it possible that riding a bike could make you more productive? We all know the health benefits of cycling—well exercise in general—but can riding a bike have a positive effect in other ways as well? According to one source, exercising before work raises an employee’s work productivity by an average of 15 percent and workers who regularly exercised had 27 percent fewer task errors. Employees who exercise are more punctual and have fewer absences, by close to 80 percent. Additionally, a habit of regular exercise has proven to help keep a person mentally sharper throughout his or her entire life.
Of course there’s a scientific reason for all this—now bear with me for a minute we won’t get too technical. Cells contain mitochondria which produce a nucleotide called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. ATP is important because it provides energy for every cell in your body. Think of it as gas in your car’s tank. When there is plenty of gas, the car runs properly and efficiently. However, if the gas gets low, or the tank is empty, the car will not be able to run. The development of mitochondria is stimulated by physical exercise. This means the more you ride your bike, the more mitochondria you produce and, therefore, the more ATP is available to your cells. Now here’s the key. The more ATP in your cells, the more energy is available to your brain, which, in turn, boosts your mental output, making you—you guessed it—more productive.
When I’m riding my bike, my body is creating mitochondria and ATP, which gives my brain more energy and allows me to think more clearly, which helps me to put together my outline. Riding our bikes, my friends, keeps us alert and focused. It kicks up our energy level and improves our brain function. But what is most interesting, riding a bike increases our creative thinking—perfect for those of us who write books. In fact, a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that walking—either indoors or out—triggered a boost in creative thinking an average of 60 percent! No wonder I’m able to create that outline before the trail is over.
There you go. Riding a bike can make you more productive, creative, and improve your mental capacity. So if you have a problem you can’t figure out (or an outline you have to create) the best thing you can do is get on your bike and ride. C’mon, let’s go ride a bike. +
Paul W. Papa is a bike enthusiast and the author of Best Bike Rides Las Vegas and Mountain Biking Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.
When not out on the trails, he can be found at www.paulwpapa.com.