On our previous blog, you’ve got to know all the physical health benefits that cycling regularly can offer. However, the positive impacts of riding a bike are also beneficial to mental wellbeing. Many people enjoy cycling simply because it makes them happy and present in the moment; and happy feelings aren’t trivial. From reducing your stress to being happy to freeing your soul from the traffic jam, check out why we think you should be considering cycling to improve your mental health and wellbeing.
The first and likely the most noticeable benefit that any physical exercises can bring is the positive impact on our mood. A study found that people who participated in physical activity (e.g.: cycling or walking) felt more content, more awake and calmer, compared with inactive participants. It is suggested that a low-intensity aerobic exercise, such as a 30-minute bike ride, can uplift people’s mood.
When people feel threatened or upset, our body’s defences tend to create a stress response, which may make us uncomfortable and behave differently. The most common signs of stress are sleeping problems, loss of appetite and sweating. To fight these symptoms, aerobic exercises are known to decrease the levels of ‘cortisol’, the ‘stress hormone’, and to produce more ‘endorphins’, the ‘happy chemicals’, that help defuse tension, elevate mood and stabilise sleep patterns affected by stress. As cycling is definitely part of the aerobic exercise group, any cyclists can recognise the reduction in tension after a good bike ride. Also just clearing your head from your phone and being present in the moment of you on your bike without any other distraction can be very peaceful, reducing stress.
Decrease anxiety and depression
Everybody may feel anxious at different levels every now and then, which can include panic attacks or social anxiety. Notably, anxiety, or depression in the worse case, can affect people’s careers, relationships and various responsibilities in life. In order to reduce generalised anxiety, aerobic exercise is found to be impactful, whether at a low or high-intensity mode.
Similar to how cycling can relieve stress, endorphins, the ‘feel good hormones’, are released during physical exercises, leading to a feeling of mild elation. This absolutely boosts people’s happiness and dwindles anxiety and depression.
The reduction of stress, anxiety and depression that cycling brings about partially comes from the mindfulness when people cycle. While riding a bike, you need to focus on the present moment instead of being distracted by racing thoughts. The attention to balance the bike, push the pedals and steer the handlebar keeps cyclists away from unfavourable thinking that might become overwhelming. More interestingly, the pleasant breeze that you feel on the ride will help refresh your mind and wash away disturbing thoughts, at least for that moment. As a result, riding a bike promotes calmer thinking that is healthy for your mental wellbeing. This is why it’s a great mode of transport for work, clear your head and arrive with a calm mind.
Raise self-confidence and boost brainpower
As you observe yourself getting better and fitter after riding sessions, you prove to yourself that you can unlock challenges. This simple achievement can give bike riders a sense of satisfaction and self-worth. For example, finally conquering that hill you’ve never been able to get to the top of, or beating a personal best in time or distance.
Cycling outdoors, similar to partaking in other physical activities outside, has been found in a study to associate with increased energy and greater feelings of vitality, which can lead to a sharper mind. Accordingly, several mental diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer and cognitive decline in older people can improve when adults participate in physical activities.
Free your soul from the traffic jam
Admittedly, being stuck for hours in the metal boxes that are cars in the middle of the urban jungle could be the worst for your mental wellbeing. Traffic congestion wastes your time, which may lead to frustration; and if this condition is prolonged, daily drivers will be likely affected with all the disturbing stress and anxiety.
Commuting by bike is certainly a top choice to get rid of the confined space and being suffocated. If you’re wondering how to start then to be engaged with cycling, simply make it a part of your daily routine: cycling around the neighbourhood, doing some grocery shopping or commuting to work. When you get used to it, you’ll reckon that cycling must be one of the best decisions you’ve made!
At Reid, we believe that everyone has the basic right to move from a place of stuckness to a place of empowerment, and our community is no different. This is about more than bikes and cycling, it’s about the self-belief that change, movement, and freedom is possible, no matter how tough things can sometimes seem. To facilitate people’s freedom by bike across the world, we offer no barriers to this kind of freedom, meaning we keep costs down, as the joy of cycling and being free should be accessible to everyone.
Want to cycle towards happiness? Check out all the Reid range.