Keeping motivated - Cycling for mental health

 21 August 2020

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In times like we are in now, it can be hard to keep that motivation to exercise that you had before. Whether you were training for a particular event or going to gym was just part of your regular routine, it’s hard not to end up lacking motivation and wondering what the point is anymore.

Have a think back to why you started training in the first place? You have likely been caught up along the way in either the competitive aspect- getting fitter, faster, better or even beating yourself up unless you hit a certain number of calories per session.

Think back to when you started and how the simple pleasures of just being fitter and healthier made you feel so good! Do family and friends see your discipline to train? Think of what a great impact this positive influence can have on others! Don’t be that person that gives up!

If you usually follow a very structured workout now could be the perfect time to try out something new! Who knows, you might end up enjoying it more than what you did before! And if not, at least it mixes things up for a while.

Many of you will know I came from a running background. I wasn’t a brilliant runner, but fast enough to be considered a good runner and I bloody loved it. Due to a number of running injuries this then lead me to triathlon (still a lot of running but I had the option to swim and cycle to keep my fitness up) Long story short, this eventually still took too big of a toll on my running injuries which after a long period of feeling really unhappy and demotivated by it all, lead me to cycling!

Because cycling has had such a good impact on my life the last couple of years (and being one of the exercise options available to everyone in these current times) I thought it would be good to share with you how cycling can help with your mental health.

  • The social interaction- even if you can only ride with one other person at the moment!
  • Fresh air and sunlight- increases vitamin D for bone health and mental wellbeing
  • Keeps you in shape which makes you feel more confident
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Cycling improves your mood, reduces anxiety, and allows you to handle stress more effectively by increasing the levels of serotonin and dopamine production in our brains.
  • Our bodies also produce endorphins and cannabinoids from the same chemical family associated with cannabis, although these are naturally produced by our bodies.
  • Cycling can also help relieve anxiety and stress. Our stress hormone or cortisol is reduced while cycling or exercising. Apart from this, BDNF or Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor is released when we exercise that helps in protecting our brain from stress. This helps in generating happiness and improving memory too.[1]

So grab that old bike you having lying out in the shed, and give it a go!