A Blog For Those Affected By Environmental And Invisible Illnesses Written By Fellow Survivors
How Cycling Can Make Your Brain Stronger and Boost Your Mood
Is there a key to a better mood and a stronger brain? Many people are trying to discover a supplement, treatment, or training that will make them smarter and happier, but is that even possible? The truth is, there is no magic wand that can make your life better and easier. No matter how much we want instant solutions, working on our goals is the only effective way to achieve them. But what about people with various conditions and illnesses?
Struggling to live with environmental and invisible illnesses can be hard at times. Our conditions prevent us in many ways from doing the things we enjoy. Does that mean that we should stop having hobbies and jobs? Absolutely not. These illnesses shouldn't be an obstacle but serve as a motivation to achieve something greater.
Pessimists say that the glass is half empty. Optimists say that the glass is half full, but the realists say that cycling can make your brain stronger and boost your mood. It's natural to be skeptical about the things you're unfamiliar with. Can something as simple as cycling help me boost my mood and improve my brainpower?
1. Feeds your brain
Even though there is food, such as walnuts, that actually feeds your brain and helps your mind grow, exercising is the brain fertilizer you didn’t know you needed. Even though there are various types of exercises, cycling is in the top 5 exercises that help your mind grow. How does it actually work?
All the time you spend spinning the pedals of your bike, capillary beds in your muscles and your grey matter are created. What does this mean? The more blood vessels you have in your glutes, quads, and brain, the more oxygen reaches those places, helping them work better.
As your age number keeps growing, this type of growing capillary beds becomes more and more important. With age, the connection between blood vessels weakens and our brains start to deteriorate. A similar thing happens in severe cases of depression and apathy where patients refuse or are unable to move their body and use their brain properly. By exercising, we increase the flow of oxygen and blood to every part of our body. That’s how exercising protects our organs and restores and keeps the vitality of the organism.
2. Improved concentration
Did you know that cycling can help your concentration? Many managers and teachers noticed that employees and children who bike to work or school tend to be able to concentrate better and achieve higher results than those who drove or took public transport. Besides that, those individuals had better stamina and a healthier sleeping schedule than the others.
Can everyone improve by cycling? Cycling is the low-intensity workout that doesn't put too much pressure on some of the most fragile parts of the human body. It's also great for those who are overcoming an injury, which means that everyone can hop on the bike.
How does that affect concentration? Even though the link may seem unclear at first, biking is great for improving focus. You have to learn and follow the rules of traffic to ride your bike undisturbedly. This refines your problem-solving skills that will certainly come in handy in most daily life and work situations. In addition to that, every kind of outdoor cycling helps you build and improve your spatial intelligence. You need to know how to orient yourself in different locations and spaces.
3. Boost your mental activity
As exercising boosts oxygen in our brain and improves our concentration, does that mean if I cycle long and hard enough, I can become a genius? That’s hardly true. Doing something more and pressuring yourself is hardly better than moderate activity. In fact, intensive exercise can lead to temporarily negatively affect your information processing and memory.
The curve that connects mental activity and exercising is reverse U shaped. Too little exercise doesn’t build enough capillary beds and isn’t enough for your brain to function properly. On the other hand, too much exercise can cause burnout and fatigue. It will spend all the resources from your body, leaving you nothing to function with, which means worse mental activity.
Does it have the same effect on mental health? The answer isn't that simple. Mental health is affected by numerous different factors. However, if you simplify the process and apply it only to cycling that statement can be true. The less you cycle the less, endorphins, feel-good hormones, are released. But if you cycle too much, your body and mind become so tired which can affect your mood and cause irritability and crankiness.
4. Brain connectivity
A human brain consists of grey and white matter. The effects of cycling on the grey matter are already clear, however, what happens to the white matter?
White matter is located mostly underneath the surface of the brain. With other parts of the brain, the white matter is connected by a subway system. Unfortunately, with age and various mental diseases, those canals slowly deteriorate over time, causing mild to serious cognitive deficits. However, many people don’t know that they can slow down this process, keeping their brain healthier and functional for a longer time.
What is the secret? The secret lies withing practicing motor skills. Repeated movement such as pedaling or punching the boxing bag keeps the brain process running smoothly, improving the connectivity with white matter and other regions of the brain. Believe it or not, regularly riding the bike helps a better brain integration within the white matter in the brains of the mentally ill as well as in the "healthy" brains.
5. More cycling benefits to the brain
If you’re still not convinced that cycling strengthens your brain and increases brain activity and power, there is always more proof. By now it's pretty clear that physical activity isn't only good for your body, but for the brain as well. Is there a certain body product that is the key link between physical activity and brain wellbeing?
A BDNF, acronym for brain-derived neurotrophic factor, is a protein that may connect recreation and brain health. Even though this protein isn’t entirely examined, it’s known that it creates new neurons and maintains the existing ones. This means that BDFN enables clear thinking and information processes. Besides that, it also helps decrease the risk of neurocognitive deficit disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
How to establish the BDNF protein? It’s well known that exercising, which includes cycling, produces this protein. Only two months of regular cycling can improve anyone’s BDFN levels. That specifically includes people with environmental and invisible illnesses.
6. Social riding
Cycling provides a range of possibilities. You can make it a solo activity, or ride in a company with a partner, fitness buddy, family members, or friends. It's easily one of the most adaptable exercises there is. It can be an indoor or outdoor activity. You can ride at home or at the gym if you prefer a closed environment. On the other hand, you can enjoy the fresh air by road or mountain biking with various intensities. But what is the correlation between social biking and your mood and brainpower?
It's commonly known that people with various invisible illnesses and conditions tend to socially withdraw or isolate themselves in fear of not being accepted. What if you have no one to cycle with? Don't worry, certainly, there is a cycling club that will happily accept a new member on their adventures.
Yes, it can be hard to start and maintain the habit. However, quickly you'll notice the change. Every time you're surrounded by positive people that encourage each other, share good and bad experiences, and help each other grow in many fields, you'll feel happier and healthier.
7. Cycling is good for sleep
For people with environmental and invisible illnesses, it’s common to experience any type of insomnia during the night. It can happen because the symptoms or the anxiety kept you all night. Counting sheep or drinking warm tea isn't effective when it comes to falling or staying asleep. Is there anything you can do?
Riding a bike is a great and effective way to put you to bed. This doesn’t mean that you should cycle until you drop. Simple physical exercise during the day is enough to make you more tired and sleepy when the bedtimes arrive. This leads to better night's sleep which directly affects your overall health, mental wellbeing, and mood.
Biking only 20-30 minutes a day has a chance to increase your sleep at least one hour. In addition to that, it helps you fall asleep twice as fast. Cycling also stabilizes your circadian rhythm. This means that if you cycle at least 20 minutes every day, you can improve your sleeping pattern.
8. Emotional benefits
The stress of everyday life brings us a lot of unconstructive and unpleasant emotions that we don’t know how to deal with. Did you know that those strong negative feelings and emotions may be the cause of your illness? Surely, you’re tired of hearing that. However, no one has talked to you about dealing with those emotions and minimizing their effects on your daily life.
Cycling can help you there too. Combined with good therapy and psychotherapy, exercising gives amazing results when it comes to dealing with the blues. Even though exercising can’t completely prevent depression and other mental illnesses, it can help you relieve the symptoms. Additionally, if you learn how to correctly breathe while riding a bicycle, your performance will improve and your mind will become calmer.
Only 20 to 30-minute bike ride is enough to produce happy hormones. Once you reach 30 minutes, the feel-good hormones kick in causing you to feel the “biker’s high”. Besides, it’s a great activity for rewinding and transforming your anger and negativity into the cycling energy. The fresh air will clear your mind allowing you to take a more realistic perspective when solving the problems.
9. Stress relief
If you learn how to handle emotions by riding a bike, the same can be applied to everyday stress. How can one even reduce stress? When you use the negative energy and tension that’s been building up during the day to pedal, you release the stress as well. What if I get bored with regular city biking?
To keep your mind busy and off the problems, consider long road cycling or exciting mountain biking. There is nothing more relaxing than a 1-hour ride in the countryside while the sun is shining and the warm wind is playing with your hair. However, to keep the stress at a minimum level, for longer and more comfortable rides, you will need to get a high-quality bike.
Contrary to popular belief, not all bikes are the same. Different bikes are used for different purposes, plus the price may differ from one store to another You don’t need to be a professional to recognize and buy a good bike. For example, Bikes Online sells a wide range of different, high-quality bikes for way less money than any store in the entire country. Besides that, you don’t need to bother going to the brick and mortar store; they deliver to your doorstep for free.
10. Reduces anxiety and depression
Even though negative emotions, stress, and anxiety all have an unpleasant component, they are far from being the same. Anxiety can be an illness or just a personality trait, however, if left untreated, it can cause serious harm especially to those who are already suffering from another environmental or invisible illness.
Running and cycling can reduce anxiety. As cycling is a low-intensity exercise that doesn't put pressure into your ankles and joints, it's a better solution for everyone. Cycling prevents anxiety from developing into panic attacks and disorder.
Many scientists claim that cycling is also one of the natural depression treatments. It keeps suffering people away from the TV where unrealistic standards are set for everyone. Those socially imposed standards may increase anxiety and depression if we can’t live up to them. That’s why cycling is good for your mental health and for transforming your body into a healthier form.
As you can see, cycling has many benefits for the body, mind, and mood. It’s important to be consistent id you decide to start cycling. Over time, great positive results will be visible. There is no better cure for the soul than cycling. Still don’t believe it? Why don’t you try it out and see for yourself?