Living Life in the Cycle Lane
We are all aware of the physical benefits of exercise and it’s easy to imagine the positive effect that cycling has on our cardiovascular health. But how does it affect our emotional wellbeing?
As with any physical exercise, cycling causes the body to release endorphins, giving us that lovely feeling of wellbeing, reducing our stress levels and helping us to manage anxiety and depression. Cycling in particular offers a little extra, in that it offers an element of mindfulness — opt for a quiet countryside location and there’s little to distract you. Spending time outside, in the fresh air, is one of the best ways to improve your mood.
If you haven’t cycled before, or have neglected the saddle for a few years, cycling is a great way to bring about a sense of achievement; rising to the challenge of learning a new skill is hugely rewarding. It’s a low-impact exercise and so gentle on your joints, and gives you the freedom to travel while also achieving an endorphin high — the open road is your oyster!
Learning a new skill, or getting back in the saddle after a few years, can feel daunting. It’s important that you feel confident and safe, so it’s a good idea to take your bike somewhere quiet to practise and fine-tune your skills. As with every new habit, start small with the aim of building up — perhaps cycle a short way to the local shops to start with, or to a friend’s house. Gradually increase the distance, incorporating cycling as not only a means of exercise but also a form of transport. It can also be a good way to meet people — once you have built your confidence and increased your fitness level, try connecting with local cycling groups, such as Ride Social, to find buddies to share your journey with.
There are training schemes, such as Bikeability, which can help you build your confidence and give you a kick-start to get you on the road. Always check out the latest Highway Code for rules and regulations if you haven’t been on a bike for a while.