Research has shown that, in addition to physical well-being, there are many mental health benefits to cycling. Read on…
Learning to ride a bike is one of the big ritual rites of passage in childhood. I remember my first bike fondly. A red Schwin!
But biking shouldn’t just be an exercise reserved for kids! Maintaining a cycling habit has ongoing health benefits – which we adults should cash in on.
And I’m not simply talking about the physical benefits of cycling. Research shows that regular bike riders experience lots of mental health benefits to cycling as well. True story!
If you’re new to my work, let me quickly tell you a bit about my background and why I’m sharing this article.
I’m a late in life mother to a terrific son – and passionately committed to protecting my mental clarity and physical health – so I’m around for him for a long time – in a meaningful way!
With this goal in mind, I spent 2 years in intensive research learning how to live longer, younger, healthier. I condensed everything into a fast-paced, fun-to-read longevity book called Life is Long – which went on to be a bestseller!
I love to share all kinds of health and wellness tips on my site!
Today I decided to write about cycling -because research reports that it not only has many physical health benefits – it has mental health benefits too.
A study published in The Lancet found that cycling was second only to team sports as the preferred exercise of subjects – with 21.6 percent of bike riders reporting fewer “bad mental health days” per month.
Read on to learn the many ways in which cycling improves mental health!
Cycling helps reset and regulate your natural circadian rhythms. Plus it reduces the presence of cortisol, the “stress hormone” that bursts into action in “fight or flight” scenarios. A body flush with these hormones is unlikely to experience deep, restorative sleep.
Basically, when you cycle regularly on your bike, you set yourself up for better sleep cycles in your bed!
Riding a bike helps the brain build new cells.
Evidence suggests that exercise—including cycling—increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a protein that helps maintain existing brain cells and build new ones.
Aerobic exercise, like cycling, increases blood flow to the brain as well, which can improve one’s memory.
Cycling not only reduces the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Bike riding also helps release the “happy” endorphins that help improve mood and create a better sense of well-being.
Cycling gives the mind a break. It allows creative thoughts to flow. And when you tap into these improved problem-solving skills, you unlock ideas and sweep away feelings of blocked thinking.
When you’re cycling you’re engaging in a kind of mindfulness. You’re focused on the pace of the pedals, the presence of traffic, and the beauty of a woodland trail.
Of course, cycling attracts passionate devotees who are prone to overdoing it and view cycling in a competitive way. They can sometimes forget to just go riding for pleasure every once in a while. If this is you, then consider this a loving nudge to enjoy your time more on your bike.
Pull the bike out of the shed! Pump up the tires! And go for a leisurely spin around the neighborhood or park! Soon you’ll stop feeling anxious or blue. Instead you’ll feel happier, calmer and more creative.
Over time, you’ll love the mental health benefits of cycling so much, you’ll want to keep up your biking habit – so you can maintain both your overall physical and mental health.