Friday, June 20, 2014

Biking for mental health

Difficult subject this.

I'd noticed that I was feeling very happy while I was riding my bike, and for some time afterwards. And then I noticed that generally I was feeling better most of the time.

Which made me think - is biking a way to improve mental health? perhaps even more than exercise in general?

To Google!

Why, yes it is.

There are lots of articles discussing this phenomenon like this one from NYC Bike Commuter.

There are a lot of theories about this, the concentration, the extra sunlight, etc.

But to some extent, who cares why? it just works.

Depression is soul-destroying and dangerous and makes me a person I don't want to be. It's hard on the inside and it's hard keeping it on the inside and it's hard on the people closest to me.

The bike is making things better and better. And the more I do on the bike, the better it is.

Commuting on the bike is great, I'm doing it every day I can and actively increasing the number of days. The weather is not a concern - there's gear for that. Every day I ride the bike to work is a minimum of 20 minutes free exercise and extra well-being.

Getting out at the weekend - to a park or trail - is even better.

I know recent converts to anything (non-smoking, religion, whatever) can be a pain, but really, really, if you've got a bike - use it more. If you don't have a bike, then buy a cheap one and just try it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Back in the saddle!

Well, it's been over a fortnight since I last rode. Unfortunately this was due to an accident  I had which kind of curtailed my capabilities for a while. Not a bike accident I hasten to add, but a nasty fall that left me with facial injuries.

Anyway, today I was back.

Before riding I tried out the new pump I bought last time I was in Dunedin - I can't show a photo because my phone was broken in the accident. So when I get a working phone, I'll take some photos and do a min-review. My tires on the mighty 29" were quite soft, and since I am always on the road or well-kept tracks, I decided to pump them up a bit.

What a difference! The bike really does roll on now, and is much easier to pedal again - it was already pretty good, but now it's really good.

I went to McLean's Island this morning and a great day for it too. It was a record frost this morning and by the time I headed out, the sun was well up, but still pretty cold and frosty in the shade. A really good mix and great times zooming through the forest.

It's much more exciting when you've smashed your glasses in an earlier accident and are riding without full vision. Surprisingly, it seems more scary than driving the car - maybe because on the bike I'm looking for smaller things - small rocks and potholes rather than buses and SUVs.

Two loops of the Coringa loop - no Strava because of the broken phone - but I had a very happy 50 minutes of good exercise, followed by a delicious long black in the sun. Is there a better way to spend a sunny/frosty morning?

Looking forward to heading back to work tomorrow morning after missing that for a fortnight too. I'll take the car in the morning because I have to go to the optician to get tested for new glasses, but should be able to swap to the bike at lunchtime.

I am so glad to have got into this sport - there are other reasons why doing more exercise is extra important for me - so this is a great way to do that.