Everyone goes through a stressful period in their lives at some point. In a world where everyone is rushing to get their work done, it is a given that you will be stressed out. It is hard to vent out this pressure that can come on you. It can be for a number of reasons, including financial woes and work stress.
All of these together can contribute to people even going into depression, or having nervous breakdowns. It is very hard indeed to deal with mounting stress, and it can get to a point where it feels like there is no escape from it.
Prescription drugs are all the rage
So what is the way in which people usually get away from stress in their lives? Well, it looks like the world has swept its way towards prescription drugs. Everyone is hopped up on some drug or the other. These artificial means of de-stressing are rarely a permanent option, and can lead to things like addiction and other medical side effects.
Exercise while commuting is the best way out
This is where cycling comes in. You may not know it yet, but going for a ride on your bicycle can actually help you de-stress better than medication ever could help you out. Studies have proven this over and over again.
In fact, the way in which you get to work in the mornings can contribute to your stress levels more than you know. It is a known fact that active commuting to work can actually reduce your stress levels by upto 40%. This is in direct opposition to the classic methods of getting to work, which is public transit like the Underground or the bus.
Active commuting can mean any form of exercise when getting to work. This includes things like biking and walking. Any form of physical exertion when going to work and coming back as well will help you become far less tense than you are right now.
Stress is the cause of massive expenses on a national level
This is actually true for men more than women. According to the study, men are likely to have 50% more stress than women (bad luck, guys.). Although medication is still one of the most popular methods of fighting stress and depression in people, a lot of doctors have also begun to prescribe exercise therapy instead.
In the UK, one of the main reasons why people don’t show up for work is that they are under stress. This is made more common because people are constantly on their mobile phones, which means that they will be more likely to be exposed to stress causing factors. This can cost the country up to 4 billion pounds a year!
A lot of people say that cycling is the best way to de-stress, along with walking and other physical forms of commuting. How does cycling help boost your wellbeing? The scientific reasoning behind the common saying is actually very sound.
The physical benefits of cycling
There are many physical health benefits that arise from regular exercise like biking to work every day. One thing you should always keep in mind is that when you have a sound body, you will also have a sound mind. This is very true, for a number of reasons.
This may sound strange to you, but the way in which cycling helps you out is actually a little like fertilizing a field. When you turn your pedals for hours and hours all day every day, on your way to work and back and when you are in the mood for some leisure activities, you begin to get your blood pumping.
This allows for capillary beds to be created in your muscles, as well as in your brain. The better the quality of the capillary beds in your brain and in your muscles, the more oxygen that can be transferred between your blood vessels and your cells. This is simple physics as a greater surface area allows for a higher rate of diffusion.
This higher rate of oxygen transfer allows for more nutrients to be created and absorbed into the gray matter of your brain. This helps them to work better, and allows you to concentrate more on the tasks at hand without getting distracted.
Rebuilding your brain from the spine up
As you pedal on your daily cycling routine, your nerves begin to work a lot harder than they usually do. As this happens, new brain cells are created faster and more efficiently by the centers of your brain that deal in these matters. This is because as your nerves work harder, they increase the production of certain proteins with hard to pronounce names that assist in the creation of new brain cells.
This basically means that the more you cycle, the more brain cells are built within your brain, thereby literally increasing your capacity to think and focus on just about anything. In addition to this, you also release increased amounts of chemicals that cause the messages that are shooting through your neurons to deliver much faster than they used to.
Become a faster, more focused worker
As you grow older, these new cells are going to come in handy, as your organs slowly begin to deteriorate. This means that cycling to work turns you into a fine wine. You get better with age. By creating new neurons inside your brain, you are allowing it to work far faster and more efficiently.
This change will become very obvious when you look at your performance over a month of exercise, and compare it to your work a month before, when all you did was drive to work instead of cycle. You will see a marked change in the quality of your work as well as the amount that you put out.
Since biking is what is classed as an aerobic activity (at least for the casual biker; racing and other hardcore cycling usually turns anaerobic at some point), there is going to be a major workout for your heart, lungs and brain. All of this will help increase your level of physical and mental fitness like never before.
Getting in touch with nature
One of the best things about biking is the pace. Unlike the usual methods of coming to work which are public transport and driving, cycling is free. You can go at your own slow pace and not worry about all the rushing commuters tooting their horns angrily at you as you go at your own leisurely pace.
In fact, when you bike to work you even have the option of stopping every now and then to appreciate something beautiful that you see on your way there. This is not something you have the freedom to do when driving to work, and not something you can even think about on public transport, when all you can see is the gray wall of the tunnels in the subway.
Getting in touch with nature on your way to work and taking deep breaths of the fresh morning air is definitely the best way in which to reduce stress. Try going to a field near your house on your bike today and just breathing deep while enjoying the serenity of your surroundings. You are going to notice an almost instant change in your mental state.
While improving your capacity to think and work better is an amazing way to help reduce your workload and therefore your levels of stress, you are also going to realize that it isn’t just work that contributes to your rising stress. In fact, it is not even close. One of the biggest things that help you become more stressed out is anxiety.
Anxiety is a condition which effects a lot of people the world over. You can be anxious about many different things. It is associated with the amount of responsibility you have. For example, if you have a family to support you are going to be passively worrying about possible threats to their livelihood as well.
All of this is going to help to increase your stress levels. However, when you do a physical activity, such as biking, jogging and walking, your body is going to start producing higher amounts of certain chemicals such as dopamine, which is known to increase a positive mood.
In addition to this, high amounts of cycling means that your body is going to start producing other chemicals as well. These include cannabinoids which are the same type of chemicals that can be found in marijuana. So if it is not legal in your location, cycle a lot and you should be able to get just as high.
All of these chemicals have been proven to reduce stress and lift up moods time and time again, which means that regular cycling is going to allow you to overcome serious conditions like depression in the long run.
You may not think it, but cycling is a form of meditation. As we all know meditation is one of the best ways to calm a troubled mind. It actually induces a state of passive hypnosis in you. This is brought on because the act of pedaling is very repetitive. Focusing on the rhythm at which you pedal is going to help you block out factors that bring on anxiety.
This could actually be better for you than yoga, because the mental meditation that cycling brings to you is in addition to the countless health and fitness benefits to your body.
When you master an art, you gain a lot of confidence. Doing it right over and over again is going to make you feel much better about yourself. When cycling, conquering new goals that you have set for yourself is going to leave you feeling far more motivated.
You will go about your daily activities with twice the zest that you do right now, because you have just beat your daily speed goal or time limit and it has you feeling on top of the world. Since cycling is actually one of the best sports to challenge yourself in, you are going to be feeling confident in yourself a lot more often than you ever were before.
Social Butterflies are always happy
Whether it is on a website like this one or while you are riding the trails one summer, you are always sure to find a pack of like-minded cyclists that you can bond with. Riding with your friends and people that you can enjoy yourself around is going to help you reduce stress. After all, laughter is the best medicine, and who doesn’t laugh when they are with their friends?
Keep yourself in control
While cycling does help you greatly reduce stress levels when done on a regular basis, overdoing it is going to cause you to increase your stress levels. After all, cycling is a form of exercise, and exercise places stress on your muscles and your organs.
As long as you keep your cycling in the aerobic region, you should be able to see a very distinct difference in the way you concentrate, as well as your general outlook on life. You will see things in a far more positive light than you ever used to. You will experience bursts of bliss instead of anxiety, and you will find more things in your surroundings for you to take pride in and to love looking at.
In fact, cycling is going to help you to become a happier, calmer, more focused person who isn’t affected by things like depression and anxiety, because you have molded your body into being a tool that actively fights stress in all its forms through cycling.