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Frame of Mind: The Mental Health Benefits of Cycling

It has been well ingrained into us all that cycling, and exercise in general, has untold benefits for our physical health. But what about our mental health? Some forms of exercise are particularly favourable for boosting our mental well-being, cycling being one of those. 

Unlike swimming or a session in the gym, heading out on your bike has a sweet combination of exercise and exploring the great outdoors. A brain-boosting duo that studies prove works wonders for mental and emotional health, improving anxiety, stress and depression levels.

Cycleplan surveyed cyclists to examine the noticeable mental health benefits of cycling after taking up the hobby. The results showed that 75% of cyclists noticed enhancements to their mental health, with 8% believing it directly helped their anxiety or depression.

Whether you hope to boost your serotonin levels or improve your whole body fitness, the rhythmic, aerobic exercise and low-impact nature of cycling are unbeatable.

Cycling for Positive Mental Well-Being

Relieve stress 

You can ease some life stresses with your favourite dinner or a long soak in the bath. Some, however, take a dedicated, longer-term approach. 

Cortisol is the body's stress hormone, and thankfully, research has shown that you can reduce levels of cortisol through exercises such as cycling.

Stress occurs for many reasons, high-tension jobs, significant life changes, and feelings of pressure, among a lengthy list of other causes. If cortisol is high for a long time, it can increase the chances of insomnia, depression and digestive issues, so it's important to keep on top of it and reduce stress in your life.

Cycling can also reduce the physical symptoms of stress, such as tension in your body.

Getting out in the open

Starting any physical activity such as swimming, hitting the gym or taking a spin class, are all effective ways of improving your mental health. However, there is a gift of cycling that many exercises can't offer; getting people out in the open and enjoying nature.

Studies have shown that partaking in exercise outdoors was linked to heightened energy and increased feelings of rejuvenation and optimism, alongside a decrease in anger, tension and depression. 

Reduce anxiety levels 

Anxiety has a real impact on a person's quality of life, causing panic attacks, social anxiety or the ability to carry out everyday tasks. The severity can be anything from mild to crippling, the latter of which can taint relationships, social life or even their ability to keep a job.

Aerobic exercise, such as cycling, is proven to reduce anxiety levels over a period of time, which is the gateway to panic disorder and panic attacks. 

Helps to combat depression

Years of scientific research from The University of Toronto were reviewed and proved that regular exercise treats and prevents depression. Findings show that exercising three times per week can improve feelings of depression and reduces the risk of it developing by up to 19%. 

Cycling three times a week generally encourages healthier habits like a better diet and improved sleep quality, both also help power a more positive brain, which can help to ease depression and other mental health concerns.

Boost your self-esteem

You know what they say, healthy body, healthy mind. 

Regular exercise, combined with healthier habits like a balanced diet and improved sleep, will naturally boost your self-esteem and make you feel good about yourself. A realisation of self-worth and enhanced self-esteem are known for helping to ease feelings of sadness or depression.

Improves sleep

Cycling clams cortisol levels in the body, the stress hormone that can cause restless and light sleep. On the contrary, it boosts serotonin which encourages improvements in deep sleep. 

The circadian rhythm also has an impact on sleep patterns. Cycling stabilises your circadian rhythm to help make a great night's sleep possible. And well, we all know how much a good night's sleep improves your mood, boosts energy and increases productivity. 

Cycling to socialise

We've saved this one until last because while it's not directly linked to your mental health, it is certainly a serotonin-boosting benefit of cycling. Riding your bike is a great way to incorporate social activity into your day. 

Whether you join a cycling club or your friends are also keen to explore the outdoors on two wheels, cycling with friends, family or co-workers is unbeatable as far as exercise goes.