Bicycles

Published on June 4th, 2015 | by Cynthia Shahan

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Bicycle Commuting Ameliorates Stress, Boosts Psychological Well-Being

June 4th, 2015 by  

An efficient solution to stress, balanced exercise or fulfilling physical work clears the static and nourishes body and mind. Stressed from work? Worried from local or world news? Consider that active commuting (particularly, bicycling to work) ameliorates stress and boosts psychological well-being, according to a UK study titled, “Does active commuting improve psychological wellbeing? Longitudinal evidence from eighteen waves of the British Household Panel Survey.” Findings from Stanford University’s Calming Technology Lab similarly reveal that cyclists are 40% less stressed during and after their commutes compared to those who drove or took public transport.

Cykelsuperstier from cykelsuperstier on Vimeo.

The days I am out the door at 6:30 am to plunge into the soil with seedlings or harvest greens, lifting heavy bins of veggies over my head, I unwind. Physical activity ameliorates an over-active mind. Not a grower, but traveling to the office instead? By walking or biking to work, one can set the intention for the day — and begin on a deep breathing, calmer note.

Neema Moraveji is cofounder of Spire, a wearable device that measures stress. Moraveji is also head of Stanford University’s Calming Technology Lab and clues us in:

“But we live in the spectacular and sometimes frightening age of information. We use information to bring our ideas to life, to communicate, to learn. But with such power comes responsibility: we must take care of our minds.”

“People normally think of stress as something that happens at work, and certainly it does, but commutes are interesting because it’s a place where you’re kind of in-charge of your environment—you’re usually on your own, in control, and you can set the tone of your day.”

Bicycling gently bounces the head, increasing healthy circulation between the right and left hemispheres of the brain — back and forth — balancing and calming the mind. This method of travel also lifts depression and stress, pushing it to the periphery of one’s aura and on out.


 

Spire and the Calming Technology Lab collected through 1,000 commuters wearing the Spire clip-on (techno) device that measures one’s physical signs of stress (or healthful balance).

A Smartphone app receives notifications as the device checks breathing in real-time. Thus, notifications are sent to improve breath, breathe more deeply, point out stress, and perhaps train one to start the trend of using breath to drop stress bodily. Moraveji of Spire, explains: “Your breathing patterns mirror your state of mind, so when you’re stressed, it changes the way you breathe. But when you’re tracking breathing, you can also change your breathing. It’s a two-way process.”

Or simply get on the bicycle. An 18-year study from the UK published last year, noted at the top of this article, pointed to the benefits awarded to commuters who walked and biked. The active commuters felt a higher sense of well-being and contentment. They rested more deeply and had more energy than drivers, surely helping them in their professional as well as personal lives.

Fastcoexist notes that the Spire data indicates that men are more burdened with tension at this time of day, measuring 50% more signs of stress than women. So why take your stress from the job home to your private space and loved ones? A commute on the way home will set the intention of relaxing and enjoying the evening or “off hours.” Clear the field as you leave one job for more creative work at home.

Bicycling is a very effective means of preventive healthcare, a previous CleanTechnica post pointed out. With the “improved health of the general population that increasing levels of bicycling can provide, healthcare costs can be reduced substantially.”

“Lifestyle diseases” are treatable simply by improving poor diet, offsetting a lack of activity, and increasing exposure to fresh air and the wonders of nature. Some gifted doctors promote such prophylactic healthcare and have been found prescribing bicycling. Much respect to Boston in that regard as well. “The City of Boston has announced a program to subsidize bike-sharing memberships for low-income residents, in partnership with Boston Medical Center.”

If not commuting, remember that a daily walk or two improves mental acuity and vitalizes the walker. Walking is particularly useful as a daily activity of aging adults and seems to keep cognitive decline at bay. A recent study probed how walks mitigate aging and stimulate our minds even if one has degenerative problems.

Related Stories:

Stress and Existential Anxiety Increase ‘Belief in Science,’ New Study Finds

Bike Commuting One Of The Most Effective Ways To Stay Healthy, Studies Show

The Fascinating Ways Bicycling Brings Us Closer Together 

Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder

8 Easy Nutrition Tips to Combat Stress


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About the Author

is a Mother, an Organic Farmer, Licensed Acupuncturist, Anthropology Studies, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.



  • Kyle Field

    Bicycles and mass transit will be the next boom as population growth over the next 50 years shifts to cities.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    It’s cold and wet in the morning.

    • Offgridman

      Push your city to put solar panels over the bike paths like they are starting to do in South Korea.
      That should help with the wet, and the activity of biking should help to counter the cold.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        You know there would be huge backlash and be on all the radio shows and TV as an example of what not to do unless it clearly paid for itself.

        • Offgridman

          As for a backlash that may happen.
          It would seem that panels over bike paths would need similar framing and mounts as those installed in car parking lots. Said to be one of the more expensive ways of installing them, but they do have an economic return given enough time.
          In addition to the protection from the rain the shade could be considered advantageous in warmer and sunnier climates, while doing this could also help isolate the bike paths from the automotive traffic, as the author said is another advantage in a previous ccomment.
          Just some things to cconsider in helping to encourage the use of bikes, making it safer for the riders, and providing another energy source for the community.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            I’d love to have bike paths shaded.

    • Hermit_Thrush
  • Joel

    “[…] pushing it to the periphery of one’s aura and on out.”
    Really? I hope that was meant metaphorically, otherwise you are making a fool of yourself.

    • Ivor O’Connor

      lol, you’d have an infinite number of jokes after a yoga class.

    • cynthia shahan

      Well, it could be taken however you like to take it. It is an expression related to one’s experience of energy. Perhaps it leans towards creative writing and is not as appropriate in a technical journal. However, I also have years of study in the workings of many things related to Quantum Physics — with degrees from credible institutions — and I feel it applies scientifically as well. But the prose is more creative, no doubt. Studying and practicing holistic medicine (perhaps) I come off casually with terms that energy practitioners use daily. Perhaps, for the Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or Yoga practitioner this may be applicable language. Perhaps one should take it as metaphorical. Quantum Physics does support that we have energy systems, even a simple grain of sand does. Aura is simply a term used in energy work, creative writing, perhaps metaphysical studies — and many other things. I might take this direction to another style of blog. If it offends you — this concept and interferes with the technical — thanks for your sentiment.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        I find the phrasing and sincerity refreshing. I might even find a bike ride in the cold possibly dark and wet morning refreshing too. If I lived past the initial shock!

        • cynthia shahan

          Thank you, Ivor, I hope you safely enjoy the bicycling. One thing I did not mention in this post was the danger of unprotected bicycle lanes. This is an issue in my city. We hear of quite a few accidents due to lacking urban planning necessary for protected bicycle lanes.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            🙂

  • Martin

    Well humans have only lead a non active life style in the last few decades.
    If we think about our parents/grandparent life styles, say 50 to 100 years ago, they had health problems but not the ones that are very common these days.
    A good read about that would be the book, ” The Story of the Human Body”, by Prof. Lieberman, but read it while you stand. 😉

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