It’s no secret that exercise will vastly improve mental health. Increasing blood circulation, getting endorphins flowing, rushing oxygen into your bloodstream and soaking it into your brain, spikes in serotonin and epinephrine and the self confidence that comes with a lean body are all obvious benefits of exercise. Yet, I must say from some personal, recent experience; there is some added benefits when it comes to cycling.
This last year I lost my best friend in automobile accident and my mother to cancer. I left a toxic career and turned my whole life upside down and over. I began to have serious issues with depression and anxiety. While, I thought that my mental health issues were likely circumstanial; I still had to do something about them.
I found myself having all kinds of angst and pain that created an energy within that was ready to explode out of me. So, I began cycling.
I’ve always been a distance runner and I employed this outlet but it just didn’t quite do the trick. I found that running was almost emotionally draining as I pounded the open road fast and hard only to move a short distance.
I needed to MOVE. I needed to move fast enough to have the spinning wheels of fear and pain and longing to whirl into a new path for me.
I would find myself tore up in the evening, fighting internally with nowhere to go. So I would mount my bike and ride. My family was concerned about these late night bike rides but it was just what I needed.
The stillness of the country roads, the fresh scent of lilacs and tree flowers comforted me. The vast whooshing air seemed to blow away my troubles as I coasted down hills into the sweet night air. I felt free, I felt okay, and when I was done I felt like a child after a nice hot bath.
I was later diagnosed with Bi Polar type 1 disorder. The relief I got from biking was during manic episodes and depressive episodes. The biking likely saved my life.