Cycling Is One of the Best Activities You Can Do to Banish a Bad Day
Everyone knows that exercise helps improve your mental health. As cyclists, we definitely know our bikes make us feel better. Now the first and largest study of its kind confirms it: Riding a bike, inside or out, came a close second to playing team sports as the activity most beneficial for emotional wellness.
The researchers in the study, which was published in the Lancet, analyzed the exercise and mental health of a whopping 1,237,194 adults using three years of survey data where participants reported the type of exercise they did, how much they exercised, and how many days they experienced poor mental health in the form of stress, depression, and other emotional trouble.
All exercise improved overall mental health: People who exercised had two days of poor mental health days over the course of a month compared to 3.4 bad mental health days among those who performed no physical activity. And exercise was most protective for people who had depression previously—they enjoyed nearly four fewer days of poor mental health.
Not all exercise was equally protective. Of the 75 types of exercise studied, team sports provided the most protection, with people playing soccer and other team sports reporting 23.3 percent fewer days of poor mental health than non-exercisers. But riding a bike, either indoors or outside, was a close second, with riders enjoying 21.6 percent fewer bad mental health days. The third activity on the mental health protection podium was aerobic or gym exercise (not including running—which was fourth on the list—or cycling).
The researchers concluded that team sports likely confer extra protection because they include a social element as well as physical activity. So find a buddy or three or four and schedule a few regular rides to increase your happiness watts and keep the bad mental health days at bay.