Boosting our body and mind, one pedal at a time

By Laura Elms, head of sales, HumanForest

Over the last 18 months, the effects of the pandemic have forced many of us to consider our own mental wellbeing and resilience. With such an abrupt and unexpected change to our day to day lives, it was inevitable that more than two thirds of adults already coping with mental health problems reported that their mental health deteriorated further during lockdown.

Yet as we slowly emerge from the COVID-19 restrictions and start to reclaim our former routines, one of the positives to take from a year many of us would rather forget, will be this increased focus on our health. Some people may be thinking about integrating a handful of our lockdown rituals into our daily lives to boost our mental health and general wellbeing. 

Studies show that virtually all exercise (in moderation) is considered beneficial for our physical health. More specifically, aerobic exercise, defined as any activity that gets your blood pumping and large muscle groups working such as running, swimming or cycling is recommended by the NHS, British Heart Foundation and most doctors. The benefits are wide-ranging and long-lasting, both physically and mentally, with some forms of exercise such as cycling particularly beneficial for both body and mind.

The reason why cycling is so beneficial is that it is both aerobic and low impact. It’s an accessible, fun way of realising the physical and mental benefits of increased activity whilst also enjoying the great outdoors. From our daily commute to leisure time enjoyed outside, cycling is good for your heart and muscles, your body and your mind, and it’s something we believe everyone should be able to enjoy.

We are passionate at HumanForest about encouraging and supporting more people to get onto the saddle and realise these benefits. We’re a truly sustainable micromobility platform that provides affordable and accessible solutions to bike-sharing in London and our passion for cycling is backed up by a wealth of academic support:

  1. Endorphins – Immediately after you start pedalling, your brain gets a spike of serotonin, the “happy hormone”. After 20 to 30 minutes, other mood-lifting chemicals like endorphins and cannabinoids kick in as the exercise increases the supply of oxygen to the brain, boosting the release of these “happy hormones’.
  2. Depression and anxiety – Cycling fires the neurotransmitters that alleviate pain, both physical and mental, low levels of which are linked to depression. A study in Science Direct also showed that aerobic exercise, like cycling, can significantly reduce feelings of anxiety.
  3. Cardiovascular fitness – Cycling pumps blood around your body at a greater rate than other forms of exercise, particularly beneficial for cardiovascular fitness and increased muscle strength and flexibility
  4. Burns fat – Cycling at a steady pace burns around 300 calories an hour. This form of aerobic exercise also boosts your metabolic rate, which means calories will continue to be burned even after you’ve finished cycling.  
  5. Lower risk of diabetes – Research carried out in Finland found that people cycling for 30 minutes or more per day had a 40% lower risk of developing diabetes. 
  6. Immune response – Proteins such as pyrogen and interferon which boost our immune system by increasing our body temperature are produced whilst cycling. A higher body temperature resulting from cycling is a natural way to ward off viruses and also engages our leucocytes, the white blood cells which attack and destroy any microbe that tries to spread through our body.

For all these reasons, we are passionate about encouraging and enabling more of us to realise the benefits of cycling. HumanForest electric bikes only make taking that first pedal easier and more accessible. Our truly green and shared electric fleet is convenient and affordable. Bike-sharing also reduces the cost and storage barriers involved with bike ownership. Furthermore, you don’t have to be a cycling whizz to use an e-bike. At HumanForest we are seeking to encourage everyone who can, especially those who may not have previously taken to the saddle, to make this positive change to their daily routine. 

We will all be looking forward to some form of new normality, and as we do, getting out and about on two wheels can make a real difference to our mental health and wellbeing. A happier and healthier world is possible, one pedal at a time.

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