The Mental Health Cycle
A healthy mind in a healthy body the fact that physical exercise contributes to mental wellbeing has long been acknowledged. In fact with as many as 1 in 4 and its more like 1 in 3 of us having some Mental Health crisis in our lifetime then exercise is even more important.
People with poor mental health are more likely to: have a poor diet; smoke or drink too much alcohol; be overweight. People with poor mental health are also more likely to die from heart disease and four times as likely to die from respiratory disease.’ Given that Covid is our current battle worldwide - there has never been a more important time to "GET ON YOUR BIKE"
Regular cardiovascular exercise such as cycling can mitigate these secondary physical problems. Better yet, it can often provide some help with the primary mental health problem.
Exercise like cycling has a range of benefits for mental wellbeing.
– Reduces stress
Aerobic exercise can reduce your levels of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’. Any cyclist will recognise the reduction in tension that a bike ride brings. If you have a mental health problem there are bigger benefits, because stress can be a trigger for other conditions.
– Reduces anxiety
Aerobic exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, the ‘feel good hormones’, leading to a feeling of mild euphoria – the so-called ‘runner’s high’. This can reduce anxiety and make you happier.
– Calmer thinking
Cycling promotes mindfulness, where you focus on the sensations of the present moment instead of being caught up in racing thoughts. You don’t have to think about anything except balancing the bike, pushing the pedals, feeling the breeze, and so on. This offers a break from brooding thoughts that might otherwise become overwhelming.
– Combats depression
Exercise you enjoy boosts your mood, easing symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Regular exercise at least three times a week reduces your risk of becoming depressed.
– Increases self-esteem
Exercise can make you feel more positive about yourself. As well as observing yourself becoming fitter, you prove to yourself that you’re up to the challenge of, for example, riding to work and back. It can give you a sense of satisfaction and self-control that helps you withstand stress better.
These benefits are all cited by Mind. The opinion of cyclists on the mental health benefits of riding a bike chimes neatly with them. Earlier this year, Cycling UK published a survey of almost 11,500 off-road cyclists. An astonishing 91% of respondents rated off-road cycling as fairly or very important for their mental health – slightly more than those who said it benefited their physical health.
It is therefore very important that you have a good bike fit, your saddle is comfortable and you set yourself up to have a good day - each and everyday.