“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”
– Albert Einstein
Worrying, stressing, and feeling low can be exhausting. When you’re not feeling at your best or your mental health is struggling, even getting out of bed can be daunting. Your mental wellbeing and physical health are very closely linked so if one is suffering, it’s very common for the other to be impacted as well.
Your mental and physical health can be interdependent; therefore, it’s important that you keep active to attain positive mental wellbeing. Whether you need to build up your energy again after a bout of low mood, need to manage your mental wellness due to disorders such as S.A.D and bipolar or just want to ensure that you maintain positive mental health, exercising will be a huge contributor in supporting this goal.
There have been an abundance of studies on the effect exercising has on mental health and we already know that it:
- Releases endorphins which elevate your mood
- Reduces stress
- Aids in better sleep
- Raises self esteem
- Increases energy levels
But what stands out about cycling in particular? Whilst all forms of exercise can have a positive impact on mental health, there are extra benefits to consider with cycling.
Build up your energy again
If you haven’t exercised in a while and you’re at the beginning of your journey of achieving a healthy and positive mentality, don’t feel as if you need to jump straight into it feet first. Take things at your own pace; building your fitness will go alongside building up your psychological wellbeing and confidence. Cycling is a great way to get back into it – you can go at your own speed, have time to reflect, and also explore nature as you ride.
We know that it can be hard to get up and find the energy to exercise. There are a lot of anxieties, a lot of “what ifs”, especially if poor mental health has limited your fitness for a period of time. If you’re worried about your fitness or feel that you need a little boost, an electric bike can give you that little push when you need it. What’s more, you won’t need to worry about cycling too far to then realise that you don’t have the energy levels to get back home.
Reconnect with yourself and rediscover your passions
We spend a lot of our life indoors, in artificially lit rooms, in front of artificially lit screens. We’re biologically designed to live active lifestyles outdoors, so it’s no surprise that the sedentary habits of a typical lifestyle in Western society can have a detrimental consequence on our mental health. We already know the benefits of exercising on your mental health, therefore, why not combine this with the positive link between nature and wellbeing?
Exercising in a gym can’t compare with the sights, smells, and feelings that you’ll have when out cycling. Cycling amongst nature’s surroundings gives you a chance to enjoy fresh air, give yourself some headspace, and experience beautiful new places. An electric bike can support you in cycling to parts of the countryside that you might not have previously had the fitness to reach, meaning that you can discover new, remote parts of the country that you can enjoy all to yourself.
Mindfulness is very important when it comes to championing a positive mental health and cycling is a great method of practising mindfulness. Take some time out during your route to indulge in something that you enjoy and rediscover yourself, whether this is reading, writing, painting, meditating, photography or any other passion you may have.
Connect with others
It can be very isolating when you’re struggling with your mental health. Keeping social and spending time around other people can have a huge benefit on your wellbeing, helping to decrease the risk of depression. Looking after your wellbeing includes nurturing your relationship with others and connecting with people.
Whilst it’s important that you talk about what’s bothering you, sometimes, when you’re feeling down, you don’t always want to sit down and talk. Cycling is a great solution to this barrier, giving you the opportunity to be around others whilst eliminating the need for long, in-depth conversation. Similarly, if you’re anxious about not having a common ground for conversation, enjoying a ride in beautiful scenery with someone offers an easy way to connect with them. You may feel even more confident to discuss your feelings after reflecting on your thoughts during your ride.
Reduce financial strain
Financial worries can have a huge impact on mental health; not just through the stress and worry induced but also the knock on effect from feeling trapped at home. For those who don’t have a car or don’t have the financial freedom to get buses and taxis, getting to and from work, appointments or social gatherings can prove difficult. Cycling gives you the chance to socialise without spending any money and also allows you to get around without having to worry about lack of funds. You can discover further benefits of using an electric bike for your daily commute in our recent blog post.
In the long run, cycling can help to relieve some financial strain as electric bikes are cheaper to run than cars. Buying an electric bike will either be one lump sum payment or you can look at spreading out the cost with 0% finance. There are a few future costs that you’ll need to consider with an electric bike, including the electricity needed to charge the battery (this is minimal at around 10p per charge), servicing, and any future repairs or battery replacements.
Alleviating financial strain will have a positive impact on your mental health as you’ll have less stress and more independence. Having a bike gives you the freedom to spend time with others or get out of the house without reaching for your wallet each time.
Create new goals and discover your strength
An important element of positive mental wellbeing is regularly setting goals and working towards them. Boosting confidence, raising self esteem, and improving emotional health all give you a sense of achievement that is unparalleled. When setting goals, make them specific and achievable; this will give you a higher sense of accomplishment and won’t feel so overwhelming. Cycling presents an opportunity to set definitive goals that can be gradually increased. You can start off small and keep setting new, larger goals until little wins snowball into big wins.
If you feel like you’re ready for a long difficult ride, go with your instinct – just don’t overexert yourself. Don’t, however, feel like you have to start off big; even a small bit of exercise can make a massive difference and that first cycle can feel just as much of an achievement as a four day cycle trail. Remember to take pride in your personal achievements, no matter how small they may seem to others.
Map out a journey and gradually increase the length of your ride. Once you’ve doubled the length of your original journey, take a look back at the original route and compare how you feel now to the first time that you cycled that route. Each time you do this, you’ll realise how strong you are and eventually your self-belief will far outweigh your self-doubt.
Start your journey
If you’re not quite ready to get out on a bike just yet, here are some other starting points:
- Yoga – Have a look at yoga clubs nearby or if you’re not ready for that, there are lots of yoga videos on Youtube so you can do this in the privacy and comfort of your own home or garden
- Walking – even a short walk can make a huge difference, so try build this up to be longer and longer each time
- Couch to 5K – a running plan set up for beginners by the NHS, this 9 week programme will gradually build up your fitness and stamina.
If you feel ready to begin your journey towards achieving mental wellbeing and start cycling for mental health then why not take a look at our electric bike range. If you’re not sure which bike would be best for what you need, take a read of our handy blog post on ‘Which Electric Bike is Best’. Alternatively, get in touch with our dedicated and knowledgeable Pro Rider Leisure team who will be more than happy to help.