Mental Health Day is on October 10th and unfortunately, even in 2022, mental health is still somewhat of a taboo topic, even though most New Zealanders will likely be affected by mental distress at some point in their life. In fact, 1 in 5 adults aged 15 years and over are diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder in New Zealand. So, even if you haven’t experienced it yourself, chances are you know someone who has.
One of our core pillars at Bike Glendhu is health and wellbeing, which often go hand-in-hand. With Mental Health Day just around the corner, we thought this would be a good time to highlight just a handful of the mental health benefits of pedaling a bike.
Biking promotes mindfulness & focus
Mountain biking can be akin to meditation, in the sense that it requires you to completely zone in and focus. The nature of mountain biking means that, as a rider, you need to focus on the trail and its features and zone out the rest of the world.
Meditation has proven to be a helpful way to cope with depression and anxiety and requires the same kind of mindfulness and living in the moment. For mountain bikers, getting in the zone gives you the many of the same benefits as meditation.
It keeps you social and builds community
People who have a mental health condition like anxiety or depression tend to isolate themselves from others. Riding a bike, even on your own, helps to build a social network. You’ll encounter others on the trail, and at Bike Glendhu, riders almost always interact with staff and café goers. Even small social interactions can have a big impact on mental health.
Riding also helps create a community. Humans are social creatures by nature, and even the most stoic lone wolf does better with a bit of support from their community. We’re lucky to have an epic and encouraging riding community here at Bike Glendhu, and we’ve gone to great lengths to keep our communities growing to help even more people enjoy the benefits of mountain biking.
Riding helps regulate your emotions
Mountain biking is all about encountering obstacles and figuring out how to overcome them. Everyone has a feature or hill they dread, but part of emotional stability is encountering an obstacle, having intense feelings about the situation, overcoming it and understanding that, like most things, those challenges will eventually pass. Mountain biking helps riders control their most intense feelings about what is happening around them, and this translates into real-life situations in a very tangible way.
Being in nature is good for you
We are probably all a little guilty of spending too much time inside, hunched over a computer and staring at a screen. Going outside for even just 20–30 minutes helps reduce your cortisol levels; the hormone responsible for stress.
Just being outside helps reduce your stress, but add in exercise? That’s the double whammy. You’re reducing your cortisol levels and increasing your endorphins, that magical little feeling of sunshine you get when you exercise. Endorphins are a chemical your body produces that work with the receptors in your brain to reduce your perception of pain. Harvard Health notes that endorphins are the body’s natural way to fight depression
Join us on October 10th, World Mental Health Day for a ride in the park. No gimmicks. No promos. Just good vibes and a bit of maintenance for your mental health.
Need a ride or want to try biking for the first time? No worries, we’ve got on-site bike hire available.