Mental Health and Exercise

Mental Health and Exercise

This week is mental health awareness week, and we wanted to talk about the benefits of getting out! The past 5 weeks haven't been easy with us all in lockdown. It’s meant that we have had to spend more time inside. I wasn’t aware but the daylight alone gives us a boost and puts us in a more alert state. The lack of the outdoors and the daily comforts of life could leave you feeling isolated and tired.

If you're like me, since lockdown began you have found new ways to fill your time, but there are only so many times you can cut the grass. Speaking to friends and family provides a temporary boost but the tiredness and fatigue don’t go away, coffee has helped but it’s only been a quick fix.

Researchers have found that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, that means statistically we all know someone who has or are currently experiencing a mental health problem. As we all know the trouble with mental health is that it isn’t visible and therefore can be missed, even by those people closest to us. These statistics were before the lockdown began, so imagine how many other people have been affected in recent weeks.

The current situation, disruption to life and the way we live and work has changed. For many structure and routine is the cement of life, these big changes have meant people have had to acclimatise quickly.

What does science say?

According to research by the University of Oxford, one of the main reasons people are feeling tired is lack of exposure to natural light, you can read the full article here. . Daylight is one of the main biological signals for alertness. The phase between sleep and wakefulness is a slow process in normal routines, with less exposure to ambient light its even slower.

It’s not uncommon to feel anxiety during uncertain times, this can be stressful and affect our sleep patterns and the quality of our sleep.

So what can we do to help?

One thing that all research agrees on is that exercise can help reduce some of the symptoms that can contribute to some of the mental health problems we face.

For example, aerobic exercises, such as cycling, swimming, jogging and walking have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression. They release adrenaline and endorphins which are known to reduce stress levels to the brain. This will have an effect on the limbic system, which controls motivation and mood; the amygdala, which generates fear in response to stress; and the hippocampus, which plays an important part in memory formation as well as in mood and motivation.

Cycling or any exercise can help reduce stress and fatigue, it can help you get a good night’s sleep, boost your concentration and as mentioned above helps with reducing anxiety and depression. Any aerobic exercise is better than none! So why cycling specifically? Well cycling gets you outdoors, and can easily be fitted in to your average day.

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Fitting exercise in to our day can seem like an impossible task, but it’s not! Research shows that doing three 10-minute workouts is just as beneficial to us as having the full 30-minutes in one go. That makes exercise a lot more achievable for many of us. If that doesn’t seem like it could suit you what about changing your commute to work to a bike? That way you’re exercising without having to make any time for it, it just becomes part of your routine.
Find out more about our range of electric bikes and how much you could save by purchasing through cycle to work, click this link for more. Back to Blogs