At a time when it seems hard to reach consensus on just about any issue, here's something nobody argues about: Exercise provides a huge boost to your mental health.
The piles of medical evidence on the mood-enhancing benefits of exercise is a slam dunk. Luckily, "exercise" includes all types of activity – including walking, running, basketball, pickleball and, of course, bicycling.
You might be reading this thinking "Sure, a bike company is telling me I should ride bikes more often." But we're far from the only ones.
"Research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety," reads a Mayo Clinic report.
Drew Bennett, founder of Good Company Bike Club, backs up the Mayo Clinic findings with real-world testimony. "Just getting up and moving my body helps clear my head and puts me in a better place," said Bennett. "A quick ride is enough to elevate my mood."
Don't think that you have to spend an entire day riding 100 miles and climbing mountain roads on a high-end road bike to feel the benefits, either. A short ride through your neighborhood on a hybrid-bike or a mini-adventure on a pedal-assist e-bike will also go a long way toward lifting your attitude.
"The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong," said Michael Otto, PhD, a professor of psychology at Boston University in a story on the American Psychological Association's website. "Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect."
Cycling has other benefits for your mental wellbeing: it's an activity easily shared with small group of friends, and it gets you outdoors. Studies show just being outdoors can lower stress levels and help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Turns out getting a change of scenery by taking a cruiser e-bike around a city park, or on a jaunt through suburban back roads is good for you, even if you and your riding partners don’t break a sweat.
"I'm a big fan of taking a daily break to get outdoors and breath fresh air, as it always refreshes my mind, especially during a long day of work-from-home," said Mikah Meyer, an LGBTQ+ advocate who was the first person to visit all 419 U.S National Park Service sites in one continuous trip. "There are countless studies that show the health benefits of even just 30 minutes of daily movement, and biking is a great way to be kind to your knees, see lots of your neighborhood, or even run an errand during your movement time."
For fitness coach Kanoa Greene, a quick city bike ride is enough to bring a dose of joy and clarity into her day. Riding gives the body-positive advocate an important burst of adrenaline, particularly when she shares the ride with her friends.
"Getting out there, moving and making the body work a little bit just makes us feel happier and more connected," said Greene, who enjoys the freedom her new e-bike gives her to explore.
And you don’t just need to take Greene's word for it. As long as you have a bike, you can prove it to yourself. Get out there and ride. Find out for yourself how uplifting exercise can be.