Along with being Bike Month, May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Most bicyclists know the feelings of relaxation and joy that come with a simple bike ride. Bicycling can be moving meditation, a soothing activity for both your body and mind. With each ride, you also enjoy fresh air and nature, which most see as a natural mood booster.
But you don’t have to take our word on the mental health benefits of bicycling, scientific research on the topic backs up our experiences! According to the CDC, the immediate health benefits of physical activity for adults include, improved sleep quality, reduced anxiety, and lower blood pressure. The Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines, also state that physical activity can reduce the risk of depression and lead to an improved quality of life.
Studies have also shown that a 30-minute bike ride can improve your attentional resources (Chang et al., 2017). This means, if you’re having trouble concentrating, a short bike ride could be what your brain needs to focus.
Bicycles also get you out into nature, which has similar mental health benefits. Exposure to green space is associated with improved mood, reduced stress, improved cognitive function, and reduced severity of negative mental health outcomes.
The combined benefits of physical activity and exposure to nature mean bicycling can make a positive impact on your mental wellness! We hope that you're getting out on your bike this month to enjoy all the brain benefits your bicycle brings. You can find bike-friendly events to encourage you to get riding this May at www.BayStateBikeMonth.org.