I absolutely love to cycle along the prom from my home in Southbourne to my old home in Sandbanks. It is no secret that cycling regularly provides a wealth of benefits for our physical health. It helps build muscle strength and flexibility, aids weight loss and improves overall cardiovascular fitness; however, many of us don’t think about the impact cycling can have on our mental health and wellbeing. The relationship between exercise and positive mental health has been studied for years, and it is common knowledge that working out improves your mood.
On average 25% of the UK population will experience a mental health problem every year, and suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. Read more on all the benefits of cycling.
Cycling relieves stress
We all know the world today is filled with things that make us stressed, whether it is a hard day in the office, financial burdens or family commitments. Stress can cause physical problems such as back pain, weight gain & loss and tension headaches, but it also has a huge impact on your mental wellbeing. Stress can cause anxiety and depression and can make it really difficult to just switch off and relax. Cycling reduces the level of cortisol in your body, which is known as the stress hormone. It can also be a great way to break away from a stressful routine and get out and about on your bike to make you feel relaxed and refreshed.
Cycling boosts confidence
Cycling releases serotonin, a mood neurotransmitter that is known for enhancing good feelings, self-esteem and self-confidence. Set yourself cycling challenges such as climbing a tough hill; achieving these goals will leave you feeling powerful, strong and generally positive about yourself. In addition to all this, cycling regularly will improve your physical health which will boost your confidence about your appearance.
Cycling helps you sleep better
Exercise from cycling encourages the healthy release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) into your bloodstream during sleep. HGH helps your body to fall into a proper sleep, and a boost from cycling can help those who find it difficult to drift off. Cycling will also leave your body physically exhausted which will aid sleep.
Cycling gives you a natural high
Regular exercise increases the level of endorphins in your body. These endorphins are chemicals that help us feel good and trigger a positive reaction in our minds and bodies. Studies show that cycling for just 10 minutes releases enough endorphins to help us feel happier and more positive, and regular cycling will trigger a consistent flow of endorphins to help you keep your mood up constantly. As well as being great for emotions and battling mental health, endorphins can help fight other illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.
Why is cycling good for our mental health?
For those suffering from depression, hopping on your bike can be just as effective as taking anti-depressant medication. It promotes a feeling of well-being and a sense of calm and can help in changing your thought process and patterns. Saddling up also releases dopamine and serotonin which, although not yet proven, is believed to be beneficial for reducing and preventing depression.
It gets you outdoors
For those suffering from mental health issues, often staying indoors can make matters worse. Getting outside into nature and sunshine can work wonders for those battling depression and anxiety; combine this with exercise and you are onto a winner. Taking part in outdoor physical activity such as cycling is associated with increased energy, positive engagement, feeling revitalised and decreased tension and stress levels. Getting out and about into nature can also be great for giving you a new perspective and change of scenery.
So get on ya’ bike and start cycling!