6 mental health benefits of cycling
While everyone knows how good cycling is to your physical health, the cycling benefits for your mental health are being discussed a lot less, so we decided to highlight some of them.
Cycling can not only keep you in good shape, strengthen your legs and be a great cardio workout, it’s also very beneficial to your brain.
In today’s stressful working environment, people are often looking for ways to relax their minds and take a break from the daily hustle that causes stress, and cycling is something everyone can do and combine practicality and the benefits at the same time.
A very few studies have focused on the mental health benefits of cycling specifically. However, similar findings can be found to those for other exercises. For example, a 2004 Polish review study reported that improvements in depressive and other mood disorders are greatest for rhythmic aerobic exercises like cycling.Ride, work, ride, repeat. It's a scientifically proven system that unleashes some unexpected benefits of cycling. In a recent study in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, scientists found that people scored higher on tests of memory, reasoning, and planning after 30 minutes of spinning on a stationary bike than they did before they rode. They also completed the tests faster after pedaling.
Outside of the academic literature, there are frequent claims about the benefits of cycling for mental health, including popular articles on how cycling can make you smarter and happier.
1.It reduces stress
It’s proven that cycling reduces stress hormone - cortisol, it also relieves tension in your body. Research shows that those who regularly cycle have a significantly lower risk of feeling stressed. It helps with getting a better night’s sleep and puts you in a good mood – and all of these things help to improve your well-being and boost your daily routine with positivity!
“To me it doesn’t matter whether it’s raining or the sun is shining or whatever: as long as I’m riding a bike, I know I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
-Mark Cavendish, British pro racer
2.Helps with anxiety
Cycling and walking are both very much alike to meditation, since you’re doing repetitive movements for some longer time, and this helps our body to release some endorphins, which are responsible for giving people a mental boost known as the ‘runner’s high’.These hormones help to relax your mind and make you feel happier, camls your anxiety and you might see an easy solution to your problems after a short ride on your bike.
3.Increases your confidence
Since being active helps you feel better and look better, you’ll start seeing positive changes not only in your mindset, but also in your physical shape and it will boost your self esteem.
Try setting some goals for you, like a specific distance that has to be reached each month or maybe a cycling destination, since achieving these goals will unlock your ability to achieve many other life or work related goals! Overcoming doubts and fears that you can’t cope builds resilience, and this can raise self-esteem.
4.Cycling helps fighting depression
Feeling depressed will drain your energy level and put you off from being active, but sometimes the right thing to do is hop on your bike and go for a short spin. It leads to the release of neurotransmitters that alleviate pain, both physical and mental. Depression is related to low levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine, both of which can be stimulated by exercise. Try opting for evening rides or places with less traffic, it will definitely bring some energy to you. You can’t think too deeply about your problems when you’re trying to ride in a straight line and avoid traffic. Regular exercise can improve your mood, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression.
5.Great way to practise mindfulness
Cycling gives your brain something else to focus on.This can make you feel calmer and help you to manage intrusive thoughts.Cycling also puts you into a meditative state without you having to make a conscious decision to sit down and meditate. It’s rhythmic, but you need enough focus on what you’re doing to block out your worries.
Cycling is a great way to practice mindfulness too. Mindfulness is where you clear your mind of distraction and fully embrace where you are and what you’re doing at that moment.
Practising mindfulness can help manage depression, anxiety and stress. And top athletes even use it to maximise their performance.
6.Keeps your mind strong
As we get older, our brain starts to get a bit slower. The good news is that regular, vigorous endurance exercise such as cycling can help to slow down many of the negative physiological changes that occur due to aging
Research shows that regular exercise may also protect against dementia, mood swings and memory loss.
The most recent evidence indicates that cyclists who want to minimise their risk of developing dementia should keep pedalling vigorously right into old age. In particular, it suggests that cyclists over the age of 60 should consider:
- Cycling for 45-60 minutes at 75-85 percent of heart rate reserve (NB your heart rate reserve = your maximum heart rate – your resting heart rate) four times a week.
- Including some regular interval training, which may be especially effective at enhancing cerebral blood flow.
There are many other great health benefits that we have reviewed earlier on our blog, so you can read that too, if feeling inspired.
But for now we wish you getting as much endorphins as possible from your cycling routine!
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