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Taking the bike to work isn’t just a healthier alternative environmentally to driving. It can have a hugely positive impact on your mental health, and help you get through twice as much during the day.
As these four examples show, cycling can boost your productivity at work in a variety of different ways:
It Helps You Set Your Priorities Better
Exercise leads to the triggering of endorphins, which are a group of hormones found in the brain and the nervous system.
As a result, after exercising, you will have improved your ability to prioritise, meaning you will be better focused on all of the tasks that come your way during the working day.
It Increases Your Energy and Concentration Levels
Exercising regularly strengthens your muscles and increased your endurance levels, giving you more energy for when you need it at work. The more you exercise, the more you’ll be energised.
Don’t just take our word for it, though. Take the advice of neuroscientist Brian Christie, PhD, who says that exercising can double or triple the production of neurons in your brain, meaning your brain is constantly growing as you cycle.
“I hop on my bike, go to the gym for 45 minutes, then ride the rest of the way to work,” he said.
“When I get to my desk, my brain is at peak activity for a few hours.”
This only gets more important with age, too. As we get older, our brains shrink and there is less room for these neurons.
For instance, a study by another neuroscientist, Arthur Kramer, PhD, which examined the brains of 59 physically inactive volunteers aged between 60 and 79, found that, after just three months, people who exercised had the same brain volume as those three years younger than them.
So, it is just as, if not more important, to keep this up as you get older, rather than just when you’re in peak physical condition.
It Improves Your Memory Retention
The brain is able to remember more when the body is active.
Just as with improving concentration, cycling stimulates the brain so it enables you to remember more than if you had been lounging around at home or even just driving to work, for example.
For instance, in a study conducted in 2013, healthy, young men pedalled a stationary bike fairly intensely for half an hour. They also undertook numerous cognitive tests before and after doing so.
After cycling, they fared better on memory, reasoning and planning, and finished the tests far quicker than before.
It Improves Your Wellbeing
The release of endorphins not only improves your priority functions in your brain, it also increases your mood.
However, endorphins can also be triggered by playing video games, getting an online rush at the likes of 7Sultans Casino and even eating chocolate.
Cycling differs to the above examples in that it will also produce serotonin, a chemical produced by nerve cells, which has been shown not only to improve your state of mind, but also to help rid you of symptoms of depression.
Countless studies have supported this idea; one of which showed how people with depression, who were using antidepressants at the time, saw their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, fall after cycling a stationary bike for merely 15 minutes.
There is also evidence that ‘green exercise’; i.e. cycling in natural environments contributes to the relieving of stress and anxiety.
Indeed, another study this when volunteers pedalled a stationary bike while watching a five-minute video of a particularly green cycling path. They were shown three versions of the video: the original, modified to look grey and modified to look grey.
After viewing the original version, they reported the least negative mood, and said that cycling felt less tiring, even though their heart rate and breathing stayed the same for all three videos.
And if nothing else, it will invariably put you in a better mood than being stuck in the rush-hour traffic jam every day.