From improved joint mobility to better posture, there are lots of physical health benefits associated with cycling. But did you know how much it can also help with your mental health? It turns out - a lot! Let's look at the top 5 mental health benefits of cycling.
Day-to-day life can be overwhelming, but getting out on your bike can help you to better manage day-to-day stress. Not only does general cardiovascular exercise reduce stress, cycling in particular is proven to reduce anxiety.
Biking to work? Studies show employees who cycle to work are more productive, with boosted energy levels and the ability to concentrate for longer periods of time. Cycling also improves problem-solving skills, which comes in handy in pretty much all lines of work.
Contributes to a better night’s sleep
Cycling has been proven to reduce levels of cortisol (stress hormones) in the body, which disturb a restful and deep sleep. It also supports the increase of serotonin, which can also improve sleep. In addition, cycling can help stabilize your circadian rhythm, which in turn can improve sleep patterns.
Improves your mood
A lot of riders talk about a ‘cycling high’ and science has proven that this is a real thing. After a ride, you’ll experience a spike in neuro-chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. Not only do they improve your mood, but this hit of endorphins can stimulate the same areas of the brain as a painkiller.
Helps with anxiety
Getting out and about in the great outdoors has been proven to help with anxiety. Being outside in the natural light can also help with seasonal affective disorder.
As well as this, being outside improves your vitamin D intake. Some studies have even seen individuals experience a reduction in blood pressure from a short bike ride.
So, why cycling specifically?
Obviously, any activity is better than none at all, but cycling has some particular strengths.
Firstly, you’re outside. Several studies have found that exercising outside is more effective for mental health than exercising within a gym. It also generally works out cheaper. Bikes have a large second-hand market, coupled with schemes like Cycle2Work, cycling is accessible and affordable.
Secondly, because cycling can easily be built into a routine such as a commute, you’re more likely to stick to it, as well as having the choice to ride alone or in a group.
Has cycling helped improve your mental health? Talk to us on Twitter @Cycleplan.
For more insights like these, check out our interactive guide to the health benefits of cycling.