Cycling has not only been scientifically proven to help with your physical well-being, but also with your mental health! Riding a bike is a great way to blow off steam after work and relax on the way home. Apart from burning those calories, cycling can also help you achieve optimum balance in your life.
Mental health is possibly the most often overlooked part of our overall wellness. After all, you’re forgiven for assuming you have been coping with life’s obstacles well enough. In fact, many people don’t really give their mental health the attention it deserves. A recent study revealed that one in every four people will experience at least one mental health crisis per year. Considering the number of people on the planet, that number is fairly alarming!
Cycling Helps Reduce Stress
Some people are able to deal with stress in their lives with a simple hot bath or a warm cup of tea. Others, however, require something a bit more profound in order to feel relief. With that said, is pedaling truly able to reduce the stress in your life?
Cortisol is considered the “fight or flight” hormone that increases in production whenever you’re faced with a seriously stressful situation. Leading a demanding lifestyle filled with stress means having an elevated amount of cortisol in your system for longer periods of time. This can carry major health risks such as insomnia, obesity, digestive issues, heart disease, and depression.
Work is the leading cause of stress for most people, but going cycling on the open road seems to provide the right balance between exercise and wellness. Lizzie Deignan, an Olympic silver medalist chimed in that without cycling, she is sure her mental health would deteriorate! Whether stress or anxiety builds during daily life, cycling is a great way to relieve at least some part of it.
Cycling Leads To Anxiety Reduction
Cycling isn’t just great for reducing high levels of stress, but also lessening the effects of anxiety. In fact, cycling has been proven to have similar effects as that of some of the most effective anti-anxiety meds on the market! When you start riding your bike, your system releases endorphins, which are a happiness hormone that act as a natural painkiller. Though cycling releases endorphins as a way to prevent the body from feeling excessive pain or fatigue, it does also help elevate mood swings and brighten someone’s outlook on their day.
Fighting Depression Effectively
The University of Toronto has recently concluded in 26 years of research that exercise isn’t just a cure for depression, but also the way to prevent it. The study has found that any inactive adult exercising at least three times a week can significantly reduce their depression symptoms vy up to 19%!
The study directly links cycling with a reduction in depression, but the findings don’t indicate how exactly it’s able to achieve these results. Researchers have considered that perhaps the link lies in the attitude changes that shift in a person when they partake in exercise. For example, a person may lead a healthier lifestyle or get better sleep when they’re regularly active.
Cycling Helps Achieve Mindfulness
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wasn’t just famous for his Sherlock Holmes series, but also his scientific views. After the invention of the first bicycle in 1885, he went on to explain in his infamous quote that when spirits are low and hope seems frail, riding a bicycle in the great outdoors can significantly lift a person’s spirit!
Though Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t exactly know the modern word for this act, we are now well aware that he was referring to mindfulness! Cycling hones being mindful because it eliminates the need to think about anything other than pedaling and enjoying the passing scenery. This helps keep your negative thoughts at bay and gives your mind a much deserved break that, unfortunately, is hard to do in modern society.
Boost Your Self-Esteem Levels
Good self-esteem is necessary to feel good and proud of your own accomplishments. Cycling on a regular basis allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment after setting and meeting goals regularly with ease. Plus, as our society is obsessed with how we look, having a nicer figure can also do wonders for your self-image. When your levels of fitness improve thanks to your cycling technique your outlook on how you perceive yourself is positively influenced.
Stop Cognitive Decline
As we age, our minds tend to become slower and decline. A lot of our minds are impacted by the process of aging, and this includes the development of degenerative diseases. Alzheimer’s is probably the most common example that attacks brain cells and causes significant mental decline in an older person.
Long-term memory is most often at risk with cognitive decline. The hippocampus is the portion of our brain that stores not only memories, but helps recall facts and events. Fortunately, a recent discovery has helped shed some hope on our future! Cycling is able to reduce the effects of aging on the hippocampus and allow older people a much healthier outlook in their later years.
An Improvement In Social Life
Though you’re forgiven for thinking that all of the health benefits of cycling have been adequately covered, but one that no one can overlook are the benefits on your social life! Joining a group of friends or a cycling club where you can share your outdoor experiences is a great way to build personal relationships and enjoy more social freedom. If you want to make things easier, invest in a bike conversion kit.
Why Is Cycling The Best Activity?
Any amount of physical activity that you partake in can help your mental health. However, cycling is simply proven to work better than other methods! It’s considered a fairly low impact form of aerobic exercise that most people of all ages can enjoy. Not only is it much cheaper than paying for an annual gym membership, but enjoying the outdoor scenery while cycling can further boost your mental health.
Whether you choose to cycle with a group or fly solo, the social aspect of cycling is all up to you! Plus, there are many ways that cycling can also become a part of your daily routine. For example, if you live in an urban setting, cycling helps you commute to and from work while reducing transportation costs and the harmful effects your commute may have on the environment.
Exercise is good for you, but actually making the time to do it is another matter entirely! If your mental health is poor, exercising may seem like the last thing you want to do. The key is to make cycling as fun and pleasurable as possible without overwhelming your body. A good way to do this is by starting slow with about only 15 minutes of cycling time. Make it a point to commute to work or school with your bike, and prepare for the ride every night before bedtime. By making the necessary preparations, you eliminate the potential for making excuses not to go out! You may even opt to prepare for your next ride after getting home from your current one.
Even if cycling is good for mental health, it’s crucial to take your prescribed medications as instructed by a medical professional. Only in conjunction with exercises can your meds do their job! This also means you should never stop taking medications without approval from your doctor.