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Fitness Wellness

Biking to Avoid a Mental Health Pandemic

We all remember the good old days where we would look forward to summer vacations, right? Not just the golas and the mangoes, but also the sweet, sweet tantalizing call of a jobless month and a half. No waking up early, no homework. Just you and the endless possibilities of a hot summer day. Fast forward to today, you sit and fantasize about the open, fresh air as we all suffer through an endless summer of work, anxiety and lockdowns. A deadline here, a meeting there and a weekend that seems so close, yet so far. The end of the lockdown seems out of reach, and you’re looking to alleviate all that stress. Don’t worry! We have a solution, and an amazing throwback to your childhood summer. Bike those pandemic blues away. 

 

Ofcourse, they do not have to be road bike rides, you can use a home cycle as well. If you do feel it is safe enough to go out in your area, make sure you take appropriate precautions, such as a mask, sanitizer e.t.c. Physically, regular cycle rides and biking have a plethora of benefits, such as cardiovascular fitness, improved muscle strength, better posture and of course, decreased fat levels. It is a great aerobic activity and hence your blood vessels and lungs work extra harder. This will make you breathe harder and deeper, and increases your body temperature. But not sure how to start? Get an iPhone app for cycling and you’re good to go. They track your progress and help in cycling tracking as well!

 

You might also need some tips for bike riding and to start cycling. Don’t worry, we got you! First of all, always wear a helmet, and a good fitting one, so you can start your safe cycling. Invest in a kit (if you plan on doing it long term) such as bike locks, riding shorts, shoes and tire pumps. It’s not going to be easy at first, you have to get comfortable and build your motivation, just like any other fitness routine or habit. Start small and grow from there. For example, you can’t really jump directly to something as difficult as off road cycling. Rather, start in your local neighbourhood (but only if it’s safe), and start tracking your progress using various cycling challenges. Get familiar with your own body, and understand your own limitations. 

 

This is also a great way to loosen up, and relieve some stress and anxiety that you’ve been dealing with. It’s especially because it is low impact and not as intense as other forms of workouts. You can control the intensity of the workout, making it as high or low intensity. Ofcourse, just like any other form of exercise, this releases endorphins that make you feel happy and elated. And most importantly, it’s a fun way to get healthy. It gives you an excuse to go get some fresh air, admire your surroundings and be at peace (even if it’s just for a little bit). Doing it outdoors is better than any other exercise form where you are required to stay indoors, especially when you use an app for bicycle!

 

Also, what’s more is that this easy cycling can have amazing long term benefits. In 2011, a few studies showed that exercises like biking improve brain power and can help in warding off neurological disorders such as Alzhiemer’s in later stages of life. Moreover, in 2014, a study concluded that even children benefit greatly from biking. It can help in correcting early stage disorder such ADD, which is attention deficit disorder. And the best news: it can help you dodge cancer! Yes, you read that right. Any form of exercise can help you lower your risk of cancer, but this is a really fun way to do it.

A 2015 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association studied that 14,000 men who were fitter than their counterparts had a lower risk of colorectal and lung cancer. This exercise is also a great way to push your life expectancy boundary upwards. A 2011 study showed that Tour De France bicycle race riders had a 17% higher life expectancy than the general population. Tour de France pros had an average expectancy of 81.5 while the average French population had a life expectancy of 73.5 years. Another disease that it can fight off is Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s disease is a central nervous system disorder that causes shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. Nerve cell damage causes the amount of dopamine, which stimulates the feelings of anticipation and joy, to drop which leads to the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. A 2018 study showed that vigorous exercise such as biking can lead to lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in men. The study suggests that three hours of biking in a week at 10-12 miles per hour is enough to stave off this disease. 

 

Hence, it is proven that cycling or biking can have multiple benefits, physical and mental. Physical benefits include cardiovascular fitness, prevention of neurological diseases and early stage mental disorders. It also lowers the risk of cancer and Parkinson’s disease while significantly increasing life expectancy. Mentally, biking can release some of the anxiety and stress that the pandemic has caused. This is especially because this is an easy, fun and low-impact exercise for all ages.

Whether you are still in school, a.k.a. the good old days, or if you’re retired or anywhere in between, cycling is a great way to blow off some steam in a safe, COVID free way. You don’t need any excess equipment or a lot of free time. You can easily fit it easily in your schedule, morning or night without any hassle. And apart from all of that, it is a great way to burn some calories and lose weight easily. No gym membership fees and no expensive equipment purchasing. You simply have to utilise a skill you learnt back when your summers were perfect, and use them to turn this summer the right side up. Wish you happy and easy cycling!

 

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