Featured Image Caption: Cycling and Happiness
During the past year especially, people’s mental health has been slowly on the decline, with access to family and friends limited. With an estimated 1 in 6 people experiencing mental health problems, it is more important, now than ever, to do what you can to keep your mental health in good shape.
But how exactly do we do this? Well, whilst there is no one-size-fits-all cure, there certainly are measures you can take that have shown to be effective. Research by the YMCA, who surveyed 1,000 adults in the UK on a variety of factors including their cheerfulness and optimism, confirmed our suspicions – exercise does indeed make you happier!
Why does cycling make you happier?
If you have ever heard of ‘runners high’, then you will be familiar with the rush of endorphins released after 5 minutes of running. The same goes for cycling. Within 5 minutes of cycling, your brain will begin to release endorphins such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine as well as others. The effect of this is that you feel happier, with medical experts believing exercise to have a similar effect on the body as morphine.
As many people live hectic, stressful lives, cycling offers a chance to de-stress after a long day at work. It has been confirmed by experts that riding a bike to work activates the chemical releases in the brain and allows for a dopamine fix. The result? Reduced stress and a better mood. Not only this, but cycling before work or during a lunch break boosts your workload management, innovation and general performance.
What is more – the benefits of cycling don’t just make you happier. Research suggests that cycling has a positive effect on your heart, lungs and general health. Contrary to popular belief, according to research by the University of Copenhagen, the positive health effects of increased cycling are more than a third larger than the potential loss of health from bike accidents and air pollution. Not only this – commuters who cycle to work have 41% lower risk of dying from all causes than people who drive or take public transport.
The key takeaway?
In short, people that decide to take up cycling are shown to be happier, healthier and less stressed than those that don’t.
Whilst there are so many benefits to cycling, there are a few things to consider beforehand. Firstly, you’ll want to purchase a good quality bike and insurance to protect yourself against theft and damage. No matter how careful you are, it never harms to be well prepared.
Secondly, make sure you have appropriate cycling clothing. Cycling can be uncomfortable without the right protective gear, so if you are serious about cycling, it may just be worth the investment.
If you are looking into cycling, why not ask your employer about any cycle to work schemes? Many businesses offer incentives for getting active, so you may just be able to claim money towards your new purchases. So, what are you waiting for?