Benefits of Biking
As someone who has struggled with mental health in the past, I find myself swinging my leg over whichever bike suits me best in an effort to cope with how I’m feeling.
More recently, whilst riding my road bike, I have noticed an unquestionable improvement in my mental health and there are so many ways riding has contributed to this.
I am currently training for a charity ride in September, where I am riding from Vancouver to Mexico within a month. As I am sure you are thinking, “That’s a long way isn’t it?” which when I took on the challenge, was my exact thought. Through consistent training and riding over recent months, my perception of distance has been completely transformed. Initially I would think 15 miles was a good ride, where as now, I have just finished a 450 mile week on the bike. Each ride I improve slightly compared to the previous by going further or just going faster. The improvement on each ride is small but very quickly, without noticing, I have reached a point that I previously thought I would never achieve. This attitude has been created simply by getting out on my bike and turning the pedals over again and again. I am now suddenly now rethinking things I used to see as unachievable.
When I am riding, I am often riding alone, and have found especially after a stressful day or at a time I am struggling, cycling provides a time in my day where my mind is completely clear. I am focusing on so many different components of the ride, that I don’t leave any space to think of anything that has happened that day, week or month. With it being a physical activity, your mind enters a survival focused, state as it attempts to make sure you get home in one piece. It is telling you to ease off the pedals to reduce muscle soreness, to drink more water, to replace the calories you have used up etc. This allows me to find a clear headspace often hard to achieve elsewhere in life.
Being consistent with my riding has been difficult at times. I have had weeks where I don’t want to go out despite knowing it is the best thing for me. I have joined some local cycling communities on regular weekly rides which gives me that additional motivation to get out on the bike and means that I connect with some like-minded locals. This helps to hold myself accountable regarding my commitment to riding, which really, is purely to improve my mental and physical health
If I can do it, you can too
I do appreciate that some of this will seem out of reach but we all have to start somewhere. There are some great bike hire companies locally, grab a friend, grab the family and get out on a bike. You never know where it could take you!
See you on the road or trails soon
Our Guest Blogger:
Huge thanks to our guest blogger Jack Sherwin for his piece about how cycling has improved his mental health and given him the confidence to tackle the unimaginable.
If you are struggling to cope with your mental health in general, please talk to your GP. If you’re in a crisis, treat it as an emergency. Call 999 immediately or The Samaritans, FREE on 116 123.
Dorset Mind offers group support that can also help with your wellbeing. The group offers peer support and helps to reduce stigma by normalizing conversations about mental health. You can also check out further support for stress and mental health here.