Is Cycling Good for Your Mental Health?
How biking improves one’s mental health and wellness
Regular exercise makes your body stronger, but cycling, when done daily, does this and more. It can improve your cardio-vascular system, your muscles and also your mind. The production of proteins used to create new brain cells increases by up to three times than the norm when you go cycling. There is an increased blood flow to the brain that brings in more oxygen and nutrients, improving the brain’s performance. And as they say, a healthy brain leads to a happy life.
10 Mental Health Benefits of Cycling
A study published in The Lancet showed that individuals who exercised had 43.2% fewer days of poor mental health in a one-month period than those who did not exercise. Team sports, including soccer, topped the list with 22.3%, with cycling coming to a close second with 21.6%; just one of several reasons why you should consider taking up cycling regularly.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to cycle to get fit, prepare for a tournament, or be socially active. Cycling regularly is a great way to keep your body and mind healthy. We have complied a list of 10 reasons how cycling can benefit you:
1. Cycling Reduces Stress and Improves Mood
Cycling increases the levels of dopamine and serotonin production in our brains. Dubbed as happy hormones, these chemicals reduce anxiety, improve your mood and make you handle stress more effectively with the help of endorphins.
Our body also produces cannabinoids while cycling, which help to relieve anxiety and stress. Regular cyclists will happily talk to you about the cycling high, the equivalent of the popular runner’s high. It’s because of the production of these hormones that they are able to achieve such “high.”
2. Cycling is an Effective Anti-Depressant
This study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that the more active you are, the lesser your risk of developing clinical depression becomes. Similarly, another study found that physical activity can be used to treat youth and adults who are already suffering from depression. Unlike some psychotherapies, using physical activity to treat depression did not show negative effects on the patients. So, do yourself a favour and get on that bike. You can start on a new routine by cycling to work or hitting the trails on weekends, maybe. The possibilities are endless!
3. Cycling Promotes Better Sleep Quality
The more you exercise, the more you have less problem sleeping. A study from the University of Georgia shows the link between an individual’s fitness level, particularly cardiorespiratory fitness, and sleep patterns. Cycling helps to synchronise your circadian rhythm and reduces the levels of cortisol in the body. Known as a stress hormone, cortisol prevents proper regenerative, deep sleep. Cycling helps your body get rid of this stress hormone, improving the quality of your sleeping patterns in the process.
4. Cycling Helps Improve Memory
Cycling helps develop new brain cells in the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for regulating emotions, learning information and storing long-term memories.
5. Promotes creative thinking
When cycling, you perform a regular, uniform movement that has a relaxing effect on the brain, which stabilises physical and mental function.
6. Encourages new thought patterns
You can use cycling as a form of active meditation. You might think of meditation as being similar to sleep, but this is not necessarily the case. Meditation can be performed whilst focusing on specific aspects of your bike ride. All you have to do is focus on the rhythm of your breathing, the movement of your legs, or the wind on your face, as well as potential hazards, of course. Concentrate on the physical sensations of riding, and you’ll be surprised just how easily you’ll feel calm and clear-headed.
7. Boosts productivity and punctuality
Recent studies suggest that employees who ride a bike to work are more productive by an up to 15%. That’s because a quick bike ride can boost a person’s energy levels, enabling them to have a more productive day.
8. Reduces overeating
Regular cycling allows you to ease up a little about your diet and still maintain your weight. A study from the University of Bath showed that a group of men who worked out regularly was able to offset the ill effects of overeating, such as unhealthy metabolic changes and spikes in their blood sugar. The reason for this is that your muscles break down carbohydrates and fat, and act as a buffer to the food that they eat.
9. Makes you feel more revitalised
Exercising is good, but doing it outdoors is better according to a systematic review conducted by a team at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. It concludes, as we do, that there are many mental and physical benefits of exercising outdoors.
Cycling makes you feel more energised, revitalised, and optimistic than when exercising in a gym. So, grab your bike, go out there and soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the scenery. Sunshine also aids in regulating our sleep patterns, encourages the production of serotonin and increases vitamin D in our body.
10. Ride with friends or go solo
When it comes to cycling, you can choose between going out on your own or inviting family or friends. If you want to clear your head or just get away from it all, by all means, go by yourself. If socialising is your agenda, then organise a group ride with friends or even co-workers. It’s a great way to improve your social life.
Call Someone Who Knows Bikes – Stead Cycles
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