Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

What are the health benefits of cycling?

Regular physical activity is thought to be key to promoting better mental and physical health and can help protect us from serious cardiovascular-related illnesses. Cycling as a form of exercise offers a different way to achieving your cardio goals, with a much lower impact on the body compared to most forms of exercise and can also help improve our memory, balance, coordination, and joint movement. You could easily achieve the recommended 2-4 hours a week exercise for an improved healthy lifestyle by incorporating it into your daily routine, a quick dash to the shops here, a school run there, or even ride to work. The reason there are so many bicycle schemes around is because employers recognise the many mental and health benefits cycling can provide, not to mention the amount of time it can cut out of a daily commute.

The market is flooded with different types of bicycles to suit every need, from the very basic to more advanced varieties, so choosing one to suit your level and needs has never been easier. What’s more, it doesn’t require a high level of skill or expertise to get started, you’ve probably heard the expression ‘as easy as riding a bike’, simply pick what works for you, get started, and you will soon be peddling your way to a healthier version of yourself

Mental health benefits

Like other forms of exercise, cycling is good for your mental health. It's an excellent way to keep your mind and body sound. Whether you cycle to get fit, compete, or for social occasions, cycling keeps your mind and body in the pink. Some benefits of cycling are:

Reduces stress

With the pressures of day-to-day life, and mounting obligations, we are bound to feel emotional pressure, which in turn can lead to stress, and when our mind is stressed, our bodies pick up on it too. The effects of stress can be manifested in so many ways and can sometimes result into fatigue, and eventually anxiety and or even depression. Cycling is a wonderful form of aerobics that can help our brains release endorphins, a natural feel-good hormone that is thought to help reduce stress. Increased exercise makes our bodies feel better and when your body feels better, so does the brain.

A nice long ride in the outdoors gives you the opportunity to process your thoughts and think through the things worrying you. There’s nothing like the feel of fresh air and wind in the hair, to help release worries and give us a different perspective to things.

Helps with depression and anxiety

A brisk walk can be a wonder when things seem to get on of top us, why not replace it with cycling? It could be a lot more fun, and can help stem off anxiety and in turn depression, especially if done in a social environment as we’ve observed. You may even get a better workout from it because you engage more muscles. A common side effect to depression is having low energy, cycling not only helps pump more blood to the brain, it can also help raise sugar levels in the body, hence increased energy. Not to mention the added confidence boost you get as the body begins to shed excess fat the more you cycle.

Mental health

Brain boost

Ever wondered why you get such a buzz from peddling down a hill helter-skelter, not that we encourage it, do it with caution and when you’ve mastered your confidence. Our brains release adrenaline when we engage in prolonged physical activity, which in turn causes our blood vessels to send more blood to the brain, basically giving the brain a boost.

We also engage a lot more with our brain when cycling as it requires a higher level of mental alertness compared to other forms of exercise. There is no satnav telling you to turn left or right in the next 100 yards, it’s just you, your brain, and your muscles. As the muscles engage with the pedals to tackle an upcoming hill, so does the brain to help balance us in our seats while we take the next corner, which also leads to better coordination. It’s thought this helps build new brain cells, which in turn can help improve our memories. Part of the satisfaction you get from cycling is having navigated a route you set out for yourself successfully.

Boosts your self-esteem

Learning a new skill or setting ourselves achievable goals is one of the simplest and easiest ways to boost our self-esteem, by learning to cycle, we can help achieve this, with added benefits too. .

Research states that we should burn approximately 2000 calories a day, and even though we don’t need to be counting how many calories we’re burning, exercise can help us achieve this unconsciously. Steady easy-to-moderate cycling can burn up to 300 calories an hour, incorporating it into running our daily chores, could help burn up to 5 kilos over the year. It does of course depend on the intensity at which you cycle, but every little helps; how wonderful is that?

Now that you’re cycling more regularly, one of the biggest benefits you’ll feel is increased metabolism, which in turn could help reduce or manage our weight. You will not achieve a six-pack overnight, but your body will be more toned as the more peddling you do, the more you’re likely to burn fat and with it comes increased self-esteem, if we look good, we feel good. If you’re cycling for weight loss however, be sure to combine it with a healthy-eating plan.

We cannot forget the thrill a child, and parent, gets once they’ve mastered how to ride their bicycle, on their own. This helps them build a lot more confidence at having learned a new skill and encourages them to do more new things.

Helps sleep

It goes without saying that with reduced stress, comes better sleep. There is of course the added benefit from the physical exertion a bike ride extols, that combined with all the fresh air your lungs breathe can lead to a much improved night’s sleep.

Weight is thought to be a contributing factor to lack of sleep. Cycling has the added benefit of helping manage weight, which could lead to improved sleep.

Mental health

Helps you to socialise

Team sports are thought to be a great way of improving our mental health, and as an activity, cycling is one of the most social sports around. You can choose to cycle alone, join a cycling club, of which there are plenty, or grab some friends to join you. Cycling clubs can be such a useful way to expand your social circle should you wish to, done over a cup of coffee or exchanging bicycle tips. There are even cycling holidays, which can be a great way to travel to new areas, even countries. It’s also a great way for a family to have some social time together, all of which lead to a better state of mind.

Get back to nature

As cities grow and we become more reliant on technology, it’s so easy to lose touch with nature. The outdoors play a big part to both our physical and mental wellbeing and cycling presents one of the easiest and fun ways to get back to nature. It’s the perfect way of disengaging from social media and electronic gadgets in general. Be as adventurous as you can and plan new routes on a regular basis to make it interesting.

Nature can be a wonderful place for you to practice mindfulness and a great way to alleviate stress. As you cycle through the woods, you become more aware of your surroundings, listening to birdsong or the wind in the trees can be so soothing and has calming effects.

How about engaging the family in a game of identifying different birds by their song or different plants species, even animals, depending on where you are?

It’s without a doubt a lot easier to plan a different path or route with cycling, which can help engage you in exercise over a longer period of time as opposed to other forms of exercise.

Mental health

Good for the environment

Riding a bicycle on your way home or to the office is one of the most practical and easiest means to go around. It is indeed a great way to avoid traffic. Cycling is undeniably one of the more sustainable modes of transportation today. Since it does not use petrol, you can be sure that it is easy on the environment. It also takes a small space to keep a bicycle. Since a bike is compact and light, it should save you from fighting over a parking space in a public area.

Easy and cheap

Learning to ride a bike is easy. Choose a bike that is the right size for you and find a safe place like a park to learn how to ride a bike. You can wear comfortable clothes and some safety gear as well.

Cycling is a low-impact form of exercise that is good for everyone, not just those who are into physical fitness and endurance-building. Getting a bike does not need to be expensive, it can in fact be a far more affordable and cost effective option than the often financially draining automobile or public transport options. Ride a bike more often to de-stress.


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