Stay Grounded by Walking and Biking

A side effect of the pandemic is the emotional toll it can take. The unprecedented and uncertain situation we find ourselves can have a psychological impact. One way to curtail mental anguish and promote emotional stability is to get moving. Active transportation — walking and biking — is linked to positive mental health.

In the U.S., the national ratio of anxiety tripled in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2019, from 8.1% to 25.5%. Depression almost quadrupled from 6.5% to 24.3%. High-stress times can contribute to mental health concerns. Here’s where walking and biking come in: to shake off the COVID-blues and strengthen emotional well-being.

These two activities that are good for the body are beneficial for the mind as well. Walking and biking facilitate an opportunity for exercise, which supports mental health. And “sunny disposition” is more than just an expression: walking and biking outside in the sunshine has a positive impact on mood.

Help yourself adjust to the new normal and reap the well-established psychological benefits of lacing up those walking shoes or cruising around on two wheels.

Step in the Right Direction

Walking can do wonders. Just like any other cardiovascular activity, walking boosts endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body. This “happy hormone” is a mood elevator that can even increase self-esteem. The physical activity bumps up the production of those feel-good neurotransmitters, helping to prevent and manage depression.

Walk off stress: walking shifts you into a calm state, lowering anxiety. Walking has even been shown to shut down the anxious mechanism in the brain. 

Even while observing the Safer at Home order, it is critical to keep moving. A sedentary lifestyle is harmful, with lots of health risks. Getting out and walking fights fatigue, leading to feeling less tired in the long run, and boosting energy.

Pedal Your Way to Happiness

Riding a bike can help get you on the road to better mental health. Aerobic exercise like biking keeps stress at bay, reduces anxiety sensitivity, and combats depression by releasing neurotransmitters that alleviate pain, both mental and physical.

It also relieves tension. The regular uniform movement has a relaxing effect on the brain and helps stabilize mental function. Biking is a great way to “zone out,” similar to meditation.

Your brain on biking becomes filled with serotonin and dopamine, chemicals that make us feel happy. Biking produces an uplifting effect, promoting well-being.

Getting on a bike offers a top-notch cardio workout that also lifts your spirits. It leads to happiness because its fun to do, too!

Ready to feel better? Get started with this list of places to get your 10,000 steps around L.A. and this roundup of L.A. bike routes.

Photo Credit: Getty Images