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How cycling helps me relieve stress

Davy Gandia in his bicycle.

Stress is a major buzzword, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, we know that this pandemic is one of the greatest contributors to fear and anxiety today. We fear contracting the virus, worry about possible unemployment or closing of business, and many more. We fear the long-term effects of this global disruption.

Too much stress is deadly as it may contribute to high blood pressure, heart diseases, poor habits, and lowered immunity. Unfortunately, when we are carrying too much stress, we tend to eliminate the most important stress buster – EXERCISE. Recent studies have shown that exercise can be as useful against stress and depression. While all exercise is beneficial to our health, there are some forms of exercise that are especially good for our mental health – one of these is cycling.

Since most of the gyms are closed, contact sports are not allowed yet, and restrictions on public transportation are in place, cycling has emerged as one of the safest means to commute and as a form of exercise.

As we are still working from home and we no longer need to battle traffic from commuting to work, I am always allotting my spare time going out and cycling for at least 1 to 2 hours. Metro Manila roads are transforming gradually to fit the “new normal” as shown by the presence of more bike lanes. That’s why I am not hesitant to ride my two-wheeled baby and enjoy the benefits of it. Now based on some knowledge and experience, I would like to share with you why cycling is beneficial for our mental health.

Cycling as meditation: The repetitive action of pedaling involved in cycling can help our brain release stress. By focusing on pedal stoke you can block out other worries and stresses of the day, giving your brain a break from all of your daily problems. In short, biking helps relieve our body of stress hormones and produce feel-good hormones.  

Boosts concentration: Studies show employees who cycle to work or at least managed to go out and bike, are more productive. Honestly, the day after cycling, I can feel the boosted energy running on my body and I am able to concentrate more doing my BAU tasks.

Better sleep: It is proven that cycling reduces the level of stress hormones in the body, which prevent us to have a restful and deep sleep. It also supports the increase of serotonin which can also improve our sleep. Before, having eight hours of sleep is difficult for me as I spend too much time doing poor habits. But since the time I started cycling for my exercise, I can prove that it helps me get a night of healthy sleep.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Improves your mood: Cycling pumps blood around our body at a greater rate which allows for the rapid spread of endorphins and other good substances. Cycling allows our body and mind to relax and the happiness hormones are released. I can guarantee you that cycling makes us happier.

Cycling is fun whether you spend hours riding alone or in a group. It can be a form of exercise, meditation, or socialization. So, what are you waiting for? Don't let stress keep you from riding, let it motivate you to ride. Always remember to wear protective gear and mask, bring water, and have a safe ride!

References

Cycle Plan (2019). 5 Mental Health Benefits Of Cycling. Retrieved from https://www.cycleplan.co.uk/cycle-savvy/mental-health-benefits-of-cycling#:~:text=Cycling%20has%20been%20proven%20to,turn%20can%20improve%20sleep%20patterns.

McCoy, K. (n.d.). 4 Ways to Use Your Bike to Beat Stress. Retrieved from https://www.active.com/cycling/articles/4-ways-to-use-your-bike-to-beat-stress?page=1

Mensline Australia (n.d.). Cycling: the exercise for mental health. Retrieved from https://mensline.org.au/mens-mental-health/cycling-positive-mental-health/

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