Feb 02 , 2022
Winter can feel like the longest season of all when you can’t get out on your bike as much as you’d like. But it has been proven that cycling improves mental health and is vital for relieving anxiety, promoting healthy sleep and healthier bodies.
The end of January marks the end of a month that seems to have a reputation for being depressing. Blue Monday, apparently the most depressing day of the year is in January, we’re all eagerly awaiting lighter mornings and evenings, warmer weather and dreading the ice and impending snowfall that is surely just around the corner.
Now we embark upon February, Valentine’s Day and the promise of spring, but still not quite…
“Cycling and walking both release our ‘feel-good’ hormones known as endorphins. These hormones help to relax your mind and make you feel happier.
This boosts your mood and reduces your feelings of anxiety. Research shows that those who regularly cycle have a significantly lower risk of feeling stress.” Sustrans.org
The effect of exercise on mood
When we move our bodies enough to raise the heart rate and get the blood pumping through our veins, we release a set of feel-good hormones. These endorphins as they’re officially known, consist of Dopamine that creates feelings of pleasure and reward, leading to motivation, and Serotonin that stabilises the mood and gives us feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
Coupled with being outdoors and seeing nature whizz by as you ride, cycling is a fantastic mood-booster.
“People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing many long-term (chronic) conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.
Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, clinical depression, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.” NHS.UK
The effect of daylight on mood
Whilst physical movement boosts Serotonin levels, so too does daylight, and the more you can get of it the better! The summer months are the best chance you’ll get for soaking up as much sun as you can handle, but in winter when the days are shorter and the sun weaker it’s all the more important to get outside as often as you can.
Serotonin is also responsible for telling your body to be awake! It works in tandem with Melatonin which tells you to be sleepy in the darker hours. You can see where we’re going with this can’t you?
More daylight = better sleep.
It’s just plain fun
Cycling is fun! It’s less impactful on your joints than running, it can take you miles away into countryside, to work or to friends’ and it can provide hours of fascinating and hilarious anecdotes. It’s free, can be done alone if that’s what you need, or in groups. It’s suitable for all levels of ability and you can pick up a second-hand bike for just a few quid.
And if you’re worried about the cold, we have some great tips for combating that with kids, in our blog, ‘Winter cycling with kids’.Getting the family a hobby you can all enjoy together that also provides mental health and physical benefits can’t be a bad thing now, can it?