Ella Rowlings is a health and nutrition writer. Cooking is one of her life-long passions, so she spends a lot of time reading about and cooking nutritious meals. Along with healthy eating comes healthy activities. She has become a big advocate of cycling after discovering the joy of riding her bike brought to her and the health benefits accompanied by that. We're thrilled that she has contributed this article for us.
There are many reasons to start cycling. You might need to get your heart pumping and lose weight. Maybe you want to improve your overall fitness goals. It could be as simple as wanting to build some muscle.
But keep in mind that there are mental health benefits to cycling too. Various studies have proven that exercising contributes to a more positive mental attitude.
Let’s take a closer look at how your interest in cycling can improve your overall mental health.
More in Touch with Nature
Being out in nature can offer a calming effect. There’s something inherently peaceful about going cycling and getting some distance from your smartphone and for a while.
Integrating yourself with nature might help your emotional state and might decrease levels of:
If you ever feel frustrated or as though you need a break from a particularly stressful situation, try going out on a nature cycling trek. You should notice that you’ll return feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world again.
Regular Sleeping Pattern
Have you ever noticed that you get sleepy after taking a hot shower or spending an entire day at the beach? The body’s initial response to elevations in core body temperature is that it’s time to stay alert.
It’s similar to what a hot shower does early in the morning; you’ll typically finish showering feeling more awake. However, your body’s temperature decreases over the next 60 to 90 minutes, and you may start to feel sleepy again.
You’re usually able to overcome that morning sleepiness as you’re forced to remain active. That can be because you have work during the week, or catch up with friends.
A physical response to cycling is an increase in body temperature. For that reason, you’ll notice the same biological response when you get off your bike.
By the way, everyone’s body reacts differently to aerobic exercise like cycling. Consider whether you get a better night’s sleep based on if you go cycling in the morning or closer to bedtime by cycling at different times.
Reduced Levels of Stress
One way to look at cycling is that it’s an active form of meditation. Sure, you might think a lot while cycling, but that’s a positive effect of the exercise where your mind races through your current life situations.
Sometimes, you may even notice and be shocked by how far you’ve cycled, despite feeling as though only a few moments have passed.
That’s what meditation is all about. People meditate to reach a state of “no-thinking”, where the mind no longer thinks conscious thoughts. Meditation is a well-known stress reliever, and you can benefit from its effects while cycling.
Epidemiologic studies show us that cycling also lowers your cardiovascular response to stress. A direct link exists between aerobic exercise and the body’s ability to lower blood pressure for stress management purposes.
Using cycling as your chosen exercise should benefit you with reduced levels of mental and physical stress.
More in Touch with People
Human beings need contact with other human beings—we all know that on a deep instinctual level. That’s why we form groups and communities, and it’s why social media is so popular.
We need to talk to and receive input from their friends, family, co-workers, and associates.
Can you think of a better way to combine your exercise needs and your need for human contact than cycling? It’s the best of both worlds. You’re able to go out into nature, exercise, and get around other people.
If you haven’t done so yet, join a cycling club. You’d be surprised by how amazing it feels to share your interest in cycling with others, much less how much fun!
More in Touch with the Present Moment
This goes back to our example about the power of meditation. People practice meditation to become more in touch with the present moment.
It’s incredible how cycling helps with this process. You can hop on your bike, get out on the road, and get lost in your thoughts.
Unlike meditation, where you try to achieve a completely clear mind, you can benefit from losing yourself in your thoughts while cycling.
The present moment offers a unique benefit of helping you become attuned to what’s important. For example, imagine dealing with an especially tough personal relationship or work situation. You’d be surprised how much easier it is to think through the situation calmly while cycling compared to doing it while anxious and stationary.
It’s not uncommon to “see” the answers to problems while cycling. The reason is that your exercise activity, the motion of cycling, and the daydreaming aspect of the routine puts you more in touch with the present moment. Our brains often become more stimulated and “in the zone” when we live in the present.
Have you ever recognised how much more alert and focused you feel after exercising? This comes as a result of aerobic exercise feeding additional oxygen and nutrients to your brain.
Afterward, you function with an improved sense of cognitive ability. The result is that you will more efficiently complete daily tasks and thus achieve a feeling of enhanced self-esteem.
More Happy Chemicals in the Brain
Cycling might reduce stress hormones in your body, such as cortisol and adrenaline. At the same time, the activity may stimulate the extra production of “happy” chemicals in your brain.
These happy chemicals, or endorphins, work as natural mood elevators and painkillers. They’re what cause what’s known as a “runner’s high”—although in this case, it’s more of a “cyclist’s high”.
The result is that you’ll feel more optimistic and relaxed during these times.
Were you surprised by how tremendous the benefits of cycling are? Now it’s your turn. Keep these benefits in mind, grab your gear, hop on your bike, and hit the road! Your body and mind will love you for it.
Thanks Ella. If you have any questions about the topic please feel free to get in touch. You can also join our community and meet other cyclists in your area. Start your 30 day free trial now and hit the road!