Reduce Stigma and Improve Your Well-Being: It’s Just Like Riding a Bike

bike“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.” – James E Starrs

I started running when I was 8. This was right around the time that my parents divorced and my world changed in numerous ways. I was having anxiety attacks and battling depression. I was having trouble concentrating at school. When I started running, I couldn’t tell you why I was doing it, I just felt compelled. When an anxiety attack surfaced, I put on my shoes and headed out the door.

By the age of 12, I was going for eight-mile runs with my older sister. I looked forward to running, and I always felt better afterwards. It wasn’t until later that I realized why. Running, and the endorphins it produced, were a natural combatant to my anxiety and depression. I was running to feel better. I was running to feel a sense of control. I was running to cope.

So that was the beginning. As I got older, what had started as a coping mechanism morphed into a life-long partnership with exercise and everything that goes along with it. In high school and then in college, I competed in cross country and track. I also began to dabble in triathlons, purchasing my first “real” bike when I was 17. I was hooked. Now, while my knees don’t appreciate running like they once did, the lower impact of cycling enables me to keep on pedaling.

I looked forward to running, and I always felt better afterwards. It wasn’t until later that I realized why. Running, and the endorphins it produced, were a natural combatant to my anxiety and depression.

We all know that we should exercise. Exercising has a lot of benefits, including enhanced cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength, improved mobility, stronger bones, decreased body fat, and potential disease prevention. Those are all great advantages. That said, for me, those things are the welcome side effects of my riding rather than the reason I ride. And I don’t think I’m alone. A lot of people start riding a bike and realize that:

  • It is FUN!
  • Endorphins are awesome
  • It’s a good way to meet people
  • You get a sense of accomplishment
  • You have MORE energy
  • You feel better about yourself
  • It’s a great way to explore the world
  • You feel like you are part of a community

Over the past few months, I have been able to channel this passion I have for cycling into something bigger. I have been fortunate to work with Beacon Health Options’ Associate Chief Medical Officer Emma Stanton and others at Beacon to help make her dream of a Beacon Bike Ride a reality. In just six weeks, we will begin this 2,000-mile journey, starting in Woburn, MA and ending in Miami, FL. I am so excited for this inaugural event, and I really hope you decide to join us. Check out the route options at https://www.bikereg.com/beacon-bike-ride.

Exercising has a lot of benefits, including enhanced cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength, improved mobility, stronger bones, decreased body fat, and potential disease prevention.

For those of you in Virginia’s Hampton Roads area, we have a special route planned for Friday, Sept. 30 that will take us from Beacon’s Norfolk office on Corporate Boulevard to our Chesapeake office on Crossways Boulevard. The route is only seven miles. Grab your beach cruiser, mountain bike, tricycle, whatever, and JOIN US! Also, if you don’t have a bike, don’t let that stop you. You can always rent a bike from a local bike shop. For anyone who doesn’t ride, or who hasn’t ridden in years, this is a great place to start. Plus it’s good for you and supports a great cause: the promotion of behavioral health advocacy.

And remember, it’s just like riding a bike.

 

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1 Comment. Leave new

Very well written article. I have tried to start running again at the advanced age of 54 but my knees won’t allow that to happen so I’ve been relegated to walking. While I enjoy this tremendously, I think it’s time to air up the tires on the old mountain bike and start riding again! I’ve been inspired!

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