Why cycling’s great for your brain and even better for business

By Phil Jones

I know a number of top executives and business leaders who use exercise to solve mental logjams and make decisions – pumping the flow of oxygen to their brain when it matters most. As the business landscape has become so speedy and complicated, it’s key for any executive to stay in shape mentally and physically.

Today, I'm participating in the Global Bike To Work Challenge to show support for my colleagues doing the same, my round trip is around sixty miles, so it took an early start.

Sandwiching your working day with an invigorating commute can help you pull up at your desk – if you can get your bike that close – optimally prepared, while a spin home can give you the time to reflect on the events of the day, outside the confines of the four walls of your office or car.

Adding this element of cardio-induced, brain-boosting clarity into your working life could really give you the edge in business. It’s something I recommend to entrepreneurs, take more time out to think.

If I’m going to be at my best while wearing all of my multiple hats/helmets, then designing in time to exercise  away from the workplace is absolutely crucial. At present this is around twelve hours per week (200 miles).

Boosting brain power

I don’t feel the need to justify clipping in before clocking in, it’s scientific fact that cycling boosts brain power and has a positive effect on memory and creativity. That memorably named region of our brains, the hippocampus, controls our long-term and spatial memory, and, usefully for us, also grows the more exercise it gets. 

Arriving at work with your brain already switched on, buoyed by the adrenaline rush that cycling offers and the way it gets serotonin pumping really helps kick the day off and maintain concentration levels throughout the day.

As the day closes, it’s a fantastic way to reflect on the day whilst cycling home, what I call de-fragging, like you would with a computer.

I’m a firm believer that all those hours spent in front of a screen or meeting rooms need to be equalised with time exercising. From firing the neurons in my grey matter to sharpening my problem-solving ability, cycling promotes fluid thinking, reduces stress, increases your fitness and you get to see some magnificent scenery too as a bonus.

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Phil Jones cycling through the Brother UK offices