If you have friends who ride bikes, then you will no doubt have heard them expressing their love for the sport, even when it’s sent them to hell and back on some seriously challenging climbs! You might think that this is quite an odd reaction, but in reality, there’s certain firm science behind why cycling makes people feel so great. It’s not simply cycling that causes this happiness for those you cycle. It’s the entire package; sleep, energy levels, brain health and overall fitness.
For anyone who finds it hard to sleep, cycling could be just the thing to turn your fortunes around, and we can show you why with these great pointers below.
Starting with sleep itself, the American Psychological Association asserts that getting enough sleep is a fundamental way to have regular feelings of happiness.
Further backing their expert counterparts, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers discovered that cycling for just 20-30 minutes a day helped people who were suffering from sedentary insomnia to get off to sleep twice as quick compared to when they didn’t cycle. Plus, it boosted their quantity of sleep by almost an hour!
You might consider the predicament of sleeping (or taking a nap) after working out – should I do it? and the answer is there are pros and cons to this, so it’s essentially a situational thing that varies from person to person.
Some think that this can be attributed to the sunlight and the subsequent vitamin D that cyclists soak up while riding. The sunlight we have in our lives helps to keep our body clock in check and on a regular rhythm, while also lowering levels of cortisol in the body, therefore supporting deeper, more regenerative sleep.
The vitamin D in the sunlight also promotes the production of the same vitamin in the body, and this is proven to improve mood, studies published from Zayed University’s college of sustainability sciences and humanities state.
For more useful information on sleep, check out these 54 shocking sleep statistics!
How Cycling Helps Your Brain
Having good brain health is essential. How does this relate to sleep, you might wonder? Well, it goes like this; Researchers working at Illinois University discovered that those who took part in their research performed a substantial 15% better in mental testing when their cardio-respiratory fitness was improved by 5% through cycling.
They put this down to the fact that exercise aids your brain’s hippocampus area – the region accountable for memory – to produce new cells.
So, if you have ever been kept up at night trying to remember the appointment you think you have tomorrow, or you’re not sure if you did that thing you were meant to at work yesterday, then avoid the anxiety or not remembering. This causes stress, and stress causes forgetfulness, meaning you’ll get stuck in a vicious cycle when all you have to do is go for a bike ride instead!
Heart Health and Cycling
Moving on to the next major area of the body that you’ve all heard of we’re sure! Heart health is massively important for your sleep because enduring lack of sleep has been linked to a heightened risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Evidence published by Purdue University found that cycling has the potential to lower a person’s risk of suffering heart disease by HALF if maintained regularly. It’s not a case of being a big mile hitter either, with as few as 20 miles each week proven to decrease your risk of heart disease to 50% less than that of a person who leads a sedentary lifestyle.
A Big Ol’ Energy Boost
The single group of commuters who report enjoying their daily trip to work are those are the ones who are active. Cyclists, along with pedestrians and runners are the people who make up the group of active commuters, and the fact that expending the energy required to cycle actually lets cyclists come away from a ride with feelings of being more awake and less tired.
This might not be the immediate feeling, but when you begin your shift, you’re much more likely to be able to feel more energized for the day ahead.
Research has found that cycling does, in fact, minimize feelings of fatigue by a whopping 65% while also increasing energy levels by a welcome 20%. You’re effectively just eliminating the chance of having to cope with spikes of stressful cortisol associated with driving and swapping it out for stimulating bursts of dopamine; the neurotransmitter that helps provide you with energy after exercise.
Obviously, if you have this healthy approach to the day, then you won’t go to bed feeling antsy and restless, meaning you can expect to enjoy a far better sleep at night.
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