Pedal for mental health: The benefits of cycling during Mental Health Awareness Week

man on road bike in mountains

1 in 4 people in the UK experience mental health disorders every year. This reality highlights the pressing need for awareness, support, and empathy towards mental health problems and people who experience them.

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event to raise awareness about mental health disorders, its causes, and effects. This year, Mental Health Awareness Week falls onto Monday 13th of May to Sunday 19th of May. The theme of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is 'movement', in hope to encourage individuals to incorporate movement into their daily habits. The NHS recommends at least 2.5 hours of exercise a week. However, incorporating daily movement not only allows individuals to enjoy fresh air and outdoors time but also triggers the release of 'happy hormones', which positively impact people's mental well-being.

To raise awareness during Mental Health Awareness Week and encourage individuals to hop on a bike, leading cycle and e-bike insurer cycleGuard sheds light on mental and physical health benefits of cycling. "Mental health and wellbeing has never been more at the forefront of people's minds as it is now" says James Whitten, Marketing Manager at cycleGuard. "There are a number of activities we can do to help improve our mental health, and cycling offers a number of benefits."

Cycling helps to reduce anxiety
One study has shown that less than an hour of cycling helps the body produce the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA). This is a naturally occurring chemical that helps to regulate many things within the human body, including stress. Cycling has also been linked with reducing anxiety. A study of almost 300 students found that riding a bike helped to reduce signs of anxiety.

Cycling improves well-being
Regular physical activity also helps to combat stress, depression, and anxiety. Cycling to work is one of the best ways to improve one's well-being every day. A study carried out across a number of European cities, found that using a bike to get around can help with lowering perceived stress and fighting the feeling of loneliness.

The research, conducted by ISGlobal, compared different ways of getting around such as: walking, taking the car or public transport, and claimed that cycling was the number one mode of transport for improving people's well-being. The research is supported by a previous study of commuters by the University of East Anglia back in 2014. The report concluded that those who cycle and walk to work were put under less strain and were able to concentrate more than those who commute by car. The same study also found that commuters who had made the switch from four-wheels to two, reported that they felt happier as a result.

"It is important to get out to get some fresh air every day, no matter whether it is cycling or any other physical activity that you enjoy doing" adds Whitten.

Discover more mental and physical health benefits of cycling on: cycleguard.co.uk/mental-health-and-cycling

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