Can Everyday Bicycling Make You Happier?
Perhaps it can:
Sheri Foster began riding her bike to work every day when she was working as a lifeguard while studying for her undergraduate degree. 20 years later, biking remains an essential part of her day. Foster strongly believes that cycling is responsible for her improved mental wellness.
For Foster, making the decision to commute by bike was not just about physical fitness. The exhilaration of rolling along a bike path and the challenge of riding year-round through any kind of weather has prepared Foster for the work day, and helps her unwind at the end. “If I don’t bike, I feel as though I’m missing a part of my day,” said Foster. “When I bike each day I feel happier. I’m more at peace and more relaxed.”
Claudine Fortier, a young professional, feels the same way. Initially, she began biking for transportation to save money. “Soon, I realized that I wasn’t just saving money, but that I was actually addicted to riding each day. My days were easier and I felt good.”
I’ve definitely noticed an improved mood since I returned to cycling regularly. The commute wakes you up in the morning and let’s you forget about work by the time you get home in the evening. That bit of time to yourself is wonderful, it’s nothing like the time you have in a car where you have to concentrate so much more.
I’m not sure if it’s the exercise or being in the open air, but this is an interesting theory:
Denver Nixon, Sessional Instructor in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, […] is interested in how our method of commuting influences our emotional state and mental well being. For a study due to be published this fall, “The Social Connection, Alienation, and Empathy of Three Commute Mode Practices in Vancouver, BC,” qualitative field studies were conducted over four years. Nixon found that bike commuters felt as though they were part of a community, making them more empathetic and less aggressive commuters. Drivers, on the other hand, were more likely to feel alienated and isolated in their vehicles. This connection to the environment felt by riders is likely a key factor in their mental wellness.
(Image: Cycle Chic by Sasa Tkalcan / CC 2.0)