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Are you in a funk, tired and unmotivated? Work is piling up and your stress meter is elevated? There is no denying that exercise can boost your mood. But if you perhaps forgot this or just don’t care because you are in a bad space, it’s time to revisit this very important fact of life. Move! Get your wiggles out as our parents once told us. Breathe the fresh air that awaits us outside. Whatever you do, do something. Your options are plentiful. If cycling is your thing, getting on your bike not only will shift your mood in a matter of a few minutes, but it releases positive endorphins that many prescribed medications do for depression and stress.

Just Move!

Just moving alone can redirect some of the negative emotions and shift your state of mind, but the motion of cycling can increase that even greater. Studies have shown that pedaling while cycling increases cerebral blood flow in the brain. This can directly positively prevent Dementia and Alzheimer as well as decrease stress, anxiety and depression. Exercise alone releases positive endorphins. Brain Res. 2013 Nov 20;1539:95-1042. J Alzheimer’s Dis. 2012;28(1):137-46

When The Wheels Go ‘Round

The rotation of cycling triggers left and right brain cohesion. In simple terms, right brain controls creativity, and left brain controls organization. Cycling facilitates the use of the right and left brain together. Thus contributing to a healthy happy brain.

Study after study has shown that regular physical activity helps prevent or relieve stress, anxiety and depression. One study conducted in the Netherlands (Psychology Today) focused on people with depression that were being treated with antidepressants. After pedaling a stationary bike for just 15 minutes, their level of cortisol, a stress hormone, declined.

Nature Is The Key

And what about the value of fresh air, sunshine, and dirt? Cycling outdoors in natural surroundings only magnifies these benefits. Spending time in nature can, in itself, reduce stress and decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. There’s also evidence that “green exercise” can boost enjoyment and motivation.

Motivation when in a funk is hard to obtain. But even a few minutes of fresh air can truly shift this.  If you need an extra push, encourage a buddy to meet you once a week for a ride. Your ride will be your reward, and your mood will shift.

Happiness Is…

Great friends Mountain biking in Marin brings a smile.

Some ride bikes to be fit, but for many they ride bikes because it makes them happy. Studies have shown that Happiness is a predictor of life expectancy. Feeling good about yourself is also contagious. When you are happy, it’s like a magnet and happiness usually follows.

Make time, find time, prioritize exercise. Get outside this week, ride your bike and boost your mood.