6 Cycling Benefits for Mental Health
Hop on your bike, and let's explore the incredible world of cycling! You may already know that cycling is an amazing way to get in shape and build your physical fitness, but did you know that it can also have a positive impact on your mental health?
Let's face it, life can get stressful, and we all need to take care of our mental well-being just as much as our physical health. Cycling can help alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression while boosting our mood and overall happiness.
Think of cycling as a form of therapy on two wheels. Whether you're commuting to work, cruising down a scenic route, or pushing yourself to your limits in a race, cycling can provide a sense of freedom, accomplishment, and empowerment.
With one in four people having a mental health problem annually, cycling can be an excellent and inexpensive way to stay physically and mentally fit. Still not convinced about cycling mental health? Stay put and let's explain why cycling is good for your mental health.
6 Cycling Benefits for Mental Health
1. Reduce Stress Levels
As we grapple with our routine day-to-day activities, we face life stresses that pressure us. While we can eliminate some stressors with a cup of tea or a warm bath, other stresses require a more coordinated approach.
When we get stressed, our bodies release a stress hormone known as cortisol. As the stress levels continue to surge, the cortisol in the body increases significantly, leading to conditions such as insomnia, depression, obesity, digestive issues, and even heart disease.
However, stepping on the bicycle and taking leisurely rides can help reduce cortisol levels and help improve your mental well-being. Research conducted and documented in the International Journal of Workplace Health
Management on people who cycle to work vs. those who drive to work had some exciting findings. It established that those who cycle to work usually experience less stress in the first 45 minutes after getting to work compared to their driving counterparts. Therefore, even if you have to rally your friends and start cycling for mental health, it can go a long way to help you manage stress.
2. Cycling Can Reduce Anxiety
Aerobic exercises stimulate the body to release endorphins (feel-good hormones). These hormones help restore a calm and relaxed mood after a period of anxiousness. A study published in the Sun Direct found that aerobic exercises such as cycling can help lower anxiety, preventing anxiety from escalating to dangerous panic attacks or disorders.
The sheer joy of peddling a bike and thrusting from side to side is enough to ease the mind of some backlog and improve mental health. Although most people consider cycling an excellent way to "zone out," it can also make a fantastic period to focus and meditate. Paying attention to the rhythm of your breathing, the circular movement of your legs, and the scenic environment around you can help reduce the constant flow of worries in your mind.
3. Cycling Boosts Self-esteem
Cycling is more than just a workout, it is also a confidence booster! Meeting your cycling goals, whether it's finishing a race or overcoming a difficult course, may provide you with a sense of pride and achievement that can carry over into other aspects of your life.
When you're on your bike, you have complete control. You control the speed, distance, and intensity of your ride. You can prove to yourself that you're capable of more than you believed imaginable by pushing yourself to go further or quicker.
Cycling can also make you feel better about yourself. Physical changes such as enhanced muscle definition or weight loss may occur as you get fitter and stronger. Even if you don't notice any changes, the sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing you're taking care of your body may be a major confidence booster.
Not to mention the sense of community that comes with cycling! Whether you join a cycling club or simply cycle with friends, the shared experience of accomplishing your goals may be quite gratifying.
Now get on your bike and start releasing endorphins! Your self-esteem will appreciate it.
4. Helps Fight Against Depression
The Journal of Effective Disorders published a study in 2015 shows that people who did aerobic exercises displayed significant clinical improvements in their respiratory and cardiovascular functioning. Since biking is a type of aerobic exercise, it can improve mood and lower depression symptoms, reduce incidences of mental breakdown. Instead of gulping medications for mild to moderate depression, pedal a bike through a traffic-free path or explore out-of-town terrains.
5. Improves Sleep Quality
Riding your bike helps synchronize the circadian rhythm, thereby helping you enjoy quality rest at night. It also helps lower the cortisol hormone, the stress hormone that impedes regenerative, quality sleep. A study by BMC Sports Science, Medicine, and Rehabilitation found that individuals who participated in aerobics experienced better sleep quality.
Cycling also has body-heating effects that make sleeping easier. When you experience a temperature rise when riding and a post-ride drop, you tend to fall asleep easily since you won't experience anxiety, arousal, or stress. Biking can send positive impression to the brain serotonin, thereby enhancing human sleeping cycles.
6. Keep Your Mind Strong
Mental health cycling can help reverse cognitive decline caused by aging. As we all know, when we get older, our cognitive capabilities shrink, and brain strength declines. Sometimes the decline can be severe to the extent that we forget past experiences and actions. The part responsible for storing long-term memories is known as the hippocampus.
However, all is not lost, as research indicates that exercising can help counteract the cognitive decline of the hippocampal function. Cycling is one exercise that can help preserve cognitive function and reduce the effects of Alzheimer's disease.
Cycling and other types of physical activities can also boost components in the brain like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which help you become attentive and focused. Most creatives are known to exercise as a means of navigating mental blocks. Therefore, stepping on those pedals will not only make you healthier but also give your mind an extra boost of positivity and keep it strong and healthy.
Ride your bike and conquer the world! You have more motivation to cycle regularly now that you know its tremendous mental benefits.
Cycling can help you reach mental health goals like stress relief, mood improvement, and cognitive performance. Best part? The benefits aren't limited to experienced cyclists or long bike rides. A few weekly 30-minute rides can make all the difference.
Remember to stay safe when cycling by wearing your helmet, obeying traffic laws, and staying alert.