Most of us get involved in riding a BMX because it is enjoyable and thrilling, rather than to get exercise, but this is a very welcome side effect of being on your bike. It’s not quite the same as taking up a sport such as soccer where you get good cardio exercise – BMX is great for building upper body strength and getting other types of exercise.
A Dangerous Sport?
Before we start we should note that there will always be some critics who argue that BMX riding isn’t good exercise because it is too dangerous. They point to how common it is for riders to break bones or that helmets might protect your head but do nothing to keep your neck safe. There might be some truth to this but Americans have never really had a problem with a sport being dangerous. Take football as the most obvious example. Players are constantly at risk for concussions and we are only just beginning to understand the dangers of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Despite this we see millions of parents cheering their kids on in high school and college football and the NFL is America’s favorite sports league. The number of people checking and placing bets on NFL gameday odds shows even more clearly how popular the sport is despite the danger. All this to say that a sport having a bit of risk associated with it isn’t a good enough reason to stop doing it. BMX might be a bit more dangerous than some other activities but the fun and great exercise is worth the risk.
Why BMX makes such great exercise
Let’s look at the reasons why riding a BMX, learning tricks and getting good at bike riding can be really great for your body (and your mind). It also doesn’t matter if you’re 10 (like this incredible young rider) or 40 when you get started.
Often, BMX can be really intense exercise, allowing some people to burn up to 450 calories in around 30 minutes, which is much quicker than a lot of other methods of exercise. This helps to burn calories but also, over time, lowers the levels of fat that reside in your body. The intensity can vary and different people have different ways of riding. If you’re just riding from one place to another then the intensity might not be so high, but if you are going to take on ramps and learn tricks then the intensity is much harder.
If you see someone who has a lot of skill on a BMX, there is every chance you’ll also notice their muscles. Cycling works so many of your muscles, including your hamstrings, calves and quads, and you can grow your upper body strength using your back and your abdominal muscles. These are benefits of any type of cycling, but BMX allows you to cycle in different ways and head to the park and use your handlebars for tricks and maneuvers, which means you are also working your shoulders, chest and your arms.
Building muscles is great for increasing your strength but can also make you generally healthier and aid with weight loss. While it is a myth that you can turn fat into muscle, muscular frames do require more calories and this can mean it is easier to create a calorie deficit and lose weight.
Better heart health
It makes sense when you think about the nature of the exercise, and there have been studies from the Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences to back up the fact that riding can lower your chances of getting heart disease. BMX gives you short bursts of intensive exercise, which means that your heart will become healthier and this can even help to lower your blood pressure. When you start out on a BMX, you might not be thinking about your heart health too much, but over time, you may start to realize what a big benefit this is. It’s also an argument for starting later in life, as you can improve your fitness even as you get older.
Improves your balance and body coordination
You have to be pretty coordinated to be able to ride a bike and stay upright – your body is constantly being tested for balance and you will improve while riding your BMX. Okay, you’re likely to have a few falls if you are just getting started, but generally, BMX will improve your coordination and help you in other areas of your life. Balance is really important for other sports, too. We’ve already mentioned American football in this guide, and it is easy to see why aspiring NFL players and young athletes might use BMX to get fitter and improve other physical attributes in the process. BMX is also relatively low impact when you want it to be, and you don’t have to risk loads of injuries to get some decent exercise, especially if you wear the correct protective equipment to ensure you don’t get lots of cuts, scrapes or worse.