We live busy and stressful lives, due to which our physical and mental health suffers tremendously. Lack of time makes it difficult to work on our physical health, but since neglecting health can reduce our capacity to function and lead to illness, we try to put in some effort there.
Our mental health is another story entirely. We tend to ignore the signs of a poor mental state until we are burnt out or have a complete breakdown.
Exercise has been scientifically proven to enhance mental health. A few studies have shown cycling works well to improve mental well-being. Here are seven amazing ways cycling can improve your mental health.
Studies have shown that cycling can relieve stress. People who commute to work on a cycle have reduced stress levels than people who take other commuting methods. But, don’t limit yourself to bike commuting to relieve your stress.
Opt for cycling for pleasure, like taking your cruiser bike to a park. If you like exhilaration and excitement, consider buying a mountain bike and hitting the mountain bike trails.
There are so many ways you can cycle to reduce stress; you will never get bored. From road riding to exploring the trails, use cycling to keep your stress levels under check. You also get the bonus of staying physically fit and healthy while enhancing your mental health.
Helps become one with nature
Nature is a great healer; being in nature can help us improve our physical and mental health. You expose yourself to fresh air and greenery when you cycle in nature parks and reserves(only those equipped with cycling tracks).
As humans started living in urban areas, they got separated from nature. This ripped them off from the benefits that exposure to nature can bring.
Mountain biking can be a great way to delve into nature. You can ride your bikes for hours in the wilderness, sometimes with only trees and nature sounds keeping you company.
While you become one with nature, you let nature nurture you, helping you improve both your physical and mental health.
Helps you disconnect
A lot of the stress in our life comes from social connections. Since the rise of social media, we are more concerned about maintaining a certain public persona than we are about living our lives.
We soak in many ideologies from looking at peers and public figures on social media sites and being unable to live our life according to the perceived idea of how our lifestyle should be tended to give social stress.
This is why it is crucial to disconnect from the digital world so that we can step away from stress and drama.
Cycling is a dedicated activity that can successfully keep you away from your smart devices. After all, attempting to text or scroll while you cycle can kill you! You can easily use cycling to disconnect, which can help you get away from social media addiction and stress.
You get to exercise
Some people hate working out while cooped up in a gym or indoors. Cycling is a great way to get a full-body workout while being outside.
A very common (and often annoying) advice people get when they say they are struggling with a mental health issue is being asked to exercise. While this common advice can be frustrating, it is still scientifically proven to help improve mental health.
When you exercise, your body releases hormones that help improve your mental health. Cycling is one of the best exercises for happiness. When cycling, you feel peaceful and calm while making most of your body parts move.
Cycling is also an aerobic exercise that activates your blood vessels, heart, and lungs. You take in more oxygen, which reaches various parts of your body, especially your brain, and improves its capacity to function.
Overthinking can have a paradoxical effect on our mental health. Overthinking gives us anxiety, keeping us awake at night. This leads to us not getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep slowly deteriorates our brain’s capacity to deal with stress and mental pressure. This cycle keeps going on and on, leading to both psychological and physical health issues.
Cycling is a great way to improve sleep. For starters, it makes us tired. Being tired can force our body to sleep even if the mind tries to be overactive.
Regular cycling actually helps synchronise our circadian rhythm, helping us reduce the large level of stress hormones in our system. The stress hormone is a huge factor behind our body’s failure to get enough deep sleep that helps regenerate and refresh our brain cells.
Some people suffer from mental health issues due to loneliness. Cycling can actually help you become more social. Through biking, find companions who share your enthusiasm for cycling.
This can be particularly great if you pick up mountain biking. Mountain bikers are like wolf packs. You can meet new people, make friends and have fun on mountain trails.
Cyclists connect easily and sometimes even without a lot of talking. Even introverts enjoy being part of cyclist groups as you can do your thing and be a part of something without exchanging many words. It is a great way to meet welcoming and open, like-minded people.
Cycling can be meditative
While cycling, you can easily zone out and only focus on the riding. You can tune out your thoughts and help your mind become calm.
A lot of our stress comes from thinking worrying thoughts over and over again. If cycling can take your thoughts away from your mind, you can easily consider it as meditation. After all, meditation is nothing but the art of making your mind empty and peaceful.
Some people find it hard to sit still. If you want to meditate without sitting in one place, you can use cycling as a form of meditation.
Don’t know how to meditate while cycling? Try focusing on the actions you perform. Concentrate on your legs, the rhythm of your breath, or pedalling. Try focusing on the pleasant feeling of the breeze touching your face gently.
We hope these seven amazing ways you can use cycling to help improve your mental health make cycling more lucrative to you. Cycling is easy to include in your life, as you can choose to do it as a leisurely activity or you can use it as a means to commute.
Consider cycling to enhance your mental health. You can get more exercise and improve your sleep while boosting the well-being of your mind. Meditate through cycling and make your life healthy and happy.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.