Cycling and mental health

by behemothprocycling   August 29, 2013  

Hi all.

After having a few problems over the past few years, I found that my outlook on life has been greatly improved by the gift of an old Trek hybrid. It is like I have to be more self-reliant, make sure I take all the things I need for a ride with me, i enjoy the solitude of riding which in a way is strange because I'm sure if I was just left on my own for a couple of hours I wouldn't enjoy it at all. And it doesn't matter that I'm on my own as I have my friend my Trek with me anyway.
Just wondering if any of you have any experience of using cycling to recover from any kind of illness or trauma and if you have any advice for me.

Thank you

Matt.

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Hi,

Glad to hear you have been helped by your bike - I've found the same thing recovering from a few months of depression. My only advice is to keep riding, and when you feel down remember what it is to ride. Remembering the great times on your bike has really helped me to support my therapy with a more positive outlook and set of memories.

I'm actually creating a short film at the moment called 'Ride For Your Life' which is about this very subject. I wonder if you'd be interested in getting involved?

Cheers,
Kieran

posted by Not KOM [79 posts]
29th August 2013 - 17:49

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Same here; my bike - also a Trek hybrid, oddly enough - has been a big help to me. (Though i now have other bikes...).

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [595 posts]
29th August 2013 - 18:02

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Yeah similar experience for me.

Cycling is by far and away the most effective thing to help with that side of things and I have tried most. It's not really an exaggeration to say that cycling allows me to lead a relatively normal and productive life which wasn't possible before.

posted by lazyusername [144 posts]
29th August 2013 - 18:56

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No illness or trauma but I packed up drinking, smoking and living the high life,(for no other reason other than I felt 20 years of solid hedonism was too much), and realised that the massive stress I have at work needs an outlet. Went to a bike shop, car blew up back from the bike shop, I took it as an omen and haven't looked back. Its more than transport and keeps me sane.

posted by dunnoh [201 posts]
29th August 2013 - 20:38

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There is nothing for me like setting off before dawn and getting into my rhythm as the sun rises with nothing but myself, my thoughts and a good honest ride ahead of me. It is largely time where I am not hassled by anything other than crap drivers and I find it enormously therapeutic.
There is plenty of academic study about the beneficial effects of endorphins released after exercise but this is largely an after effect for me. Having positive goals is undoubtedly beneficial for everyone so why not ?
For what it's worth depression is not something I have suffered from/been diagnosed with but there are plenty of people who might just describe me as a bit of a glum northerner.... Smile
Good to hear of positive cycling stories anyway !

posted by arfa [625 posts]
29th August 2013 - 20:44

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Number of years ago my bike became my best friend. While going through an incredibly dark chapter I found that cycling more helped muchly. There were other factors that helped as well. But there was something therapeutic about the spinning, fresh air, pre dawn rides to work. It didn't really matter what the weather was like either. . I would think nothing of going out for a 60 mile cycle. Not to train. But to just empty myself and my mind of all the rubbish that was going on at the time. You get a chance to take in everything around you as well. Stuff that you wouldn't normally see. Really glad that the cycling has helped you behemoth

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posted by giff77 [1139 posts]
29th August 2013 - 21:58

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Thank you all very much - Kieran that sounds interesting, if I can help in any way I will.

I thought there would be people in the same boat as myself - I can't think of a better pickup really, at least once you are used to riding regularly. What you put in you get back I guess.

PJ it must be a Trek thing - while I look at those flashy road bikes in my local Evans I don't think I would have the heart to get rid of this one. Smile

New Dawes Giro 300 purchased, I'm almost a roadie at last!

posted by behemothprocycling [48 posts]
30th August 2013 - 21:17

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I always credit cycling (specifically mountain biking) for keeping me sane during some heavy years of drug abuse and partying whilst at University, whilst unfortunately a good number of my peers who had no escape into sports or physical exercise suffered from mental and physical health problems

currently? I thoroughly enjoy road cycling and mountain biking, which provide a great escape from the stress / pressure of living in London. My female partner recently got into road cycling, and has commented on the beneficial aspects it has brought to her life-long struggle with depression and eating disorders

loving cycling!

posted by hampstead_bandit [397 posts]
30th August 2013 - 21:28

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I've always liked the last few paragraphs of this article, on the topic of the impact of cycling on one's state of mind: http://www.theguardian.com/global/2012/nov/10/cycling-bradleywiggins.

posted by lc1981 [55 posts]
30th August 2013 - 21:34

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