Riding a Bike is Mental!
The health benefits of riding a bike are well documented. Cycling is a low impact physical activity that can aid with fitness levels, weight loss and muscular toning. It doesn’t really matter what type of ‘cycling’ (I put that in inverted commas because I don’t imagine many dedicated mountain bikers would consider themselves as cyclists) you do, there will always be a benefit. Different types of bike riding will develop different physical attributes, whether it might be calves, thighs, shoulders or arms. Ride whatever you want to and see the effects. You can also feel the effects – greater lung capacity, better core strength. As far as I am concerned, there is little better than the feeling of post-ride tension in my muscles, knowing I have been out there in whatever the weather, enjoying a good meal, knowing that I will be ready to ride again tomorrow.
The observant amongst you will have noticed that, up until now, I have only been referencing physical effects. What about the mental aspect? There’s a well used trope that says ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’. I’d be so bold as to flip that on its head. The flesh, or your body, has its capabilities but if your mind is tuned in, you can go further, higher, faster than you think your body can. You can ride 5 miles or you can ride 25 miles, it’s up to you.
More importantly, the mental health benefits could arguably be greater than the physical. Being out there in wide open spaces, pushing yourself and enjoying the results, is incredible. Whatever your level, the sense of achievement is palpable. Exercise releases endorphins, in turn these endorphins make you feel good. A low-impact form of exercise that makes you feel good? I’d say it’s a no-brainer, but really it’s a complete brainer. When you ride, you are either able to process things in your mind or they simply fly out of your mind. It’s a stress reliever. Cycling, whatever form it takes for you, can help treat depression, more importantly can prevent depression. Don’t just take my word for it. Start with this article and then, as if you were on your bike, go wherever you want with it.