How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depression?

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How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depression?

Postby Chops » Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:47 pm

I ask this question as I've been off the bike again this week due to injury, and the combination of drugs, pain and no outlet has got the black dog creeping back.

Many years ago I developed shocking depression. It took a while to realise the cause was the lack of physical activity. I had two major shoulder operations in a 6 month period, with the second taking 18 months to rehab.

Having been a really hyperactive kid, playing every sport under the sun, being a good all round sportsman, then going to nothing almost overnight stuffed me right up.

It wasn't until I started walking a lot, doing regular gym work, running and getting back into football that I got out of it. And as injuries have got the better of me, cycling has become more important, and will continue to become more important. It's just as well I enjoy it a lot.

So how important is cycling and any other physical activity to your mental health? And how low do you get if you can't ride?

Just curious, because it has such an enormous positive impact for my state of mind.
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by BNA » Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:55 pm

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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby twizzle » Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:55 pm

Fairly important for me.

I can also recommend having a read of "rewire your brain", by John Arden.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby whitey » Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:57 pm

I get a bit crotchety if I dont exercise at least every second day. Needs to be either a ride, run or swim.

Morning bunch ride gives me the best endorphin rush. So I can see how it could help ward off the black dog.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby bongo » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:04 pm

I dont think that I go to the depths of depression, but certainly very moody after extended breaks from the bike/excercise. After an ordinary day at work, or at the end of a tough week, a ride in the hills clears the mind and gets all the frustration out. Helps to not take issues home with you, or to work with you.I hold a similar story,bike after footy, low impact on a battered body, I can understand your frustration, long term injuries can get you down, and setbacks within recovery attempts are like being kicked whilst on the ground.Not cool.Great effort to get on top of depression, shows a good mental strength and character, and something to focus on should that black mongrel dog comes nipping at your heels again.Enjoy your bike.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Mulger bill » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:08 pm

Vital. Give me a four days without a rec ride and I can feel that black bastige drooling down me neck. Most other forms of exercise will help somewhat but the ride is the only true treatment.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Uncle Grumpy » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:16 pm

For me, it's critically important.

Exercise for me is about 10hrs on the bike a week, average. At least 8 or maybe 6 if it's raining or freezing or I have something on I can't get out of. A couple of hours mid week on the road bike, maybe an afternoon off for a MTB ride, and smashing myself stupid on the MTB on weekends. Otherwise, I swim a bit during the warmer months and I do weights.

I suffer depression. I know my triggers but sometimes they're hard to avoid. Riding keeps me better.

If I don't ride I become down. Irritable, easily angered etc.

My wife knows it. People ask how I can get to ride so much with 3 kids under 4. Simple, it's either I ride or I have a breakdown. We just got daylight savings and a long weekend and gee, it rained. By Tuesday I was happy to be back at work to give me a sense of purpose.

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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby cpical » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:24 pm

Depression I have never experienced, at least I think so. Low moments yes, but never to the point of thinking "depression".

Cycling has been my main physical activity for 15 years or so, with a more focused and intense mind-to-it during the last 6 years. It took me some time (=on the saddle) to experience real well-being while cycling and after. For me, it kicks in after an hour or more of moderately intense pedalling. Totally necessary!!! So much so that I fear our family's going somewhere for a week or more without a bike or gym available! 8)
ON the other hand, competition is absolutely an anticlimax for me, really not my thing.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby hannos » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:29 pm

twizzle wrote:Fairly important for me.

I can also recommend having a read of "rewire your brain", by John Arden.


What twizzle said

I suffer from mild depression. Exercise is vitally important to me.
and i recommend 'Change Your Thinking' by Dr Sarah Edelman.

Come to think of it, I recommend everyone read it, regardless of their mental health.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby simonn » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:41 pm

Fundamental.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Comedian » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:43 pm

I've noticed I get grumpy if I don't ride. I've always hated dwarfs. :mrgreen:
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Robdog » Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:49 pm

I definitely start craving cycling after I've been off the road for more than a couple days. For extended periods even if I cycle occasionally but not even close to what I want to/need to be doing (like April-August this year because of bike dramas, had another bike to use but it's 25 years old and doesn't fit quite right) then a look at the scales can get me down a little and desperate for a good series of rides
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby The Womble » Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:59 pm

Bipolar here. Putting myself out there by saying it. Type 2 with Rapid Cycling. Where most Bipolar sufferers can experience euphoric highs and manic lows maybe once or twice a month, I can cycle every 2-3 days. The oberall effect it has on me is a sometimes shocking temper and days on end when I cant see the point in getting out of bed. Two things have made a difference.
1) my wife. The most understanding and patient person Ive ever known, and
2)cycling. Even if I cant shake the shittyness of it all, it gives me the opportunity to vent and re-centre. Its the best drug if not the cheapest :D
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby iaintas » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:03 pm

my +1 definitely notices my mood swings if i get stuck inside for more than 2 days. I get agitated, grumpy and generally unmotivated for much else. Riding makes me feel good again.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Max » Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:02 am

Definitely. The more I ride, the happier I am. If I'm off the bike for a few days, I start feeling really low. The worst part is when the low feeling causes lack of motivation. So I know intellectually that the way to fix the grumps is to get on the bike.. but I don't wanna ride. That sucks!

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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby foo on patrol » Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:55 am

That's good that you have put it out there Womble. Even better that you have found something that makes you feel better and it is cycling. :)

I would say that exercise plays a big part in mind well being! :idea:
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby jarrah-95 » Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:24 am

rather than depression if i don't ride its more that im just more happy when i do. thats why i decided to ride to school.
but all of this realy stems from the hormone endorphines (hope i spelt that right) witch is the best thing to keep you on the bike!
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby DaveOZ » Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:37 am

Cycling definitely affects my mood. I'm lucky I've never suffered depression but I do get grumpy. Doing things that I enjoy stop me being grump, whether it's racing cars, playing with the kids or riding the bike. I think this is what's so good about commuting, great way to start the day fresh and best way to wash off the days stress and get home happy. I do notice that if I can't get out on the bike for more than a few days I get grumpy again.

For those that do suffer depression, I can't think of a better way to kerb it than cycling. It keeps you fit and it's better than drugs or alcohol and it gives you a great sense of freedom and personal achievement.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Tim » Sat Oct 09, 2010 10:01 am

Our population is presently experiencing epidemic levels of obesity and depression. To my mind the two are inextricably linked. If most of these people were coaxed off their backsides, off the junk food and off the antidepressants we'd have a much healthier and happier society.
I know this is a bit simplistic, but it's worked for me. It is simple, get up, move about, on a bike or any other way, participate, and I don't feel like showtime.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby brauluver » Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:44 pm

Tim wrote: If most of these people were coaxed off their backsides, off the junk food and off the antidepressants we'd have a much healthier and happier society.


Is that you..... L.Ron Hubbard? :lol:
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Uncle Grumpy » Sat Oct 09, 2010 9:32 pm

brauluver wrote:
Tim wrote: If most of these people were coaxed off their backsides, off the junk food and off the antidepressants we'd have a much healthier and happier society.


Is that you..... L.Ron Hubbard? :lol:


Hi, Tom Cruise and I would like you to take a personality test Brauluver. Just hand over the measly sum of $10k. :lol:

But it's true. Exercise releases endorphins. Also, generally (though I might not be the greatest example) people who are into health and fitness eat better. They stay off the processed crap and eat whole foods a lot more. At least, they are less likely to live on processed rubbish. I tend to agree, if more people stopped trying to find the answer in a pill and attempted some lifestyle changes, we would have a happier and healthier society as a whole.

Having said that, the brain is just an organ and it is susceptible to chemical imbalances that medication is required to fix. However I think that a lot of time, lifestyle changes are the ticket to a better life before resorting to other methods.

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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Chops » Sat Oct 09, 2010 9:53 pm

Tim wrote:Our population is presently experiencing epidemic levels of obesity and depression. To my mind the two are inextricably linked. If most of these people were coaxed off their backsides, off the junk food and off the antidepressants we'd have a much healthier and happier society.
I know this is a bit simplistic, but it's worked for me. It is simple, get up, move about, on a bike or any other way, participate, and I don't feel like s***.


Well, I take anti-depressants, but exercise for me is WAAAAAAYYYY more important. It also helps with socialisation. It's why even when injured for a season, I've helped out with my footy clubs. The community involvement exercise brings is just as important. But for me right now anti-depressants are pretty important because of the side effects of the other drugs I'm on.


And Grumps, agree completely. When I'm exercising, I eat better. Why? Because my body craves proper foods, and foods that my body feels it needs. And that always differs depending on the type of training. But also because you're working hard, you don't want to waste your effort. Which in turn makes you feel better.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Parker » Sat Oct 09, 2010 10:03 pm

Cycling makes me happy, if I'm happy, then the people around me who are my friends should in theory be happier because positive influence has a domino effect.

Its like the study that says if your friends are fat then you will be fat (more likely to be fat)

Cycling make me happy, happy people achieve more
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Downhill » Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:08 am

Chops wrote:... So how important is cycling and any other physical activity to your mental health? ...


Absolutely essential. Exercise isn't a cure-all panacea, but it's just as important in treating depression as medication and psychotherapy. It should therefore be an integral part of any health management plan.

Unlike medication and psychotherapy, exercise puts people back in control of their own health, and that in itself is a substantial benefit.

I recommend reading "Spark: The Revolutionary Science of Exercise and the Brain" by John J Ratey. It explains in layman's terms just what happens to the brain at various level of physical activity. In brief, the stresses that occur during controlled exercise help to "inocculate" the body against more serious health issues. They cause the body to produce an avalanche of different compounds that help to restore and regulate many of the body's systems.

I suffer from mild though chronic depression. Fortunately for me it's more of a grey dog than a black one. With adequate exercise I feel normal (even happy). Without it, the depression returns. Exercise allows me to control it. And as for cycling, how else can you get fresh air, changing scenery, and a good aerobic exercise while sitting down? :D
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby casual_cyclist » Sun Oct 10, 2010 6:32 pm

cpical wrote:Depression I have never experienced, at least I think so. Low moments yes, but never to the point of thinking "depression".

That's interesting because I would have said the same thing. I got depressed over winter: lack of interest in things I would usually be interested in, generally unhappy for a couple of months, lack of energy etc. But if you had asked me at the time I would have said that I was: just tired, unhappy at work, in a bad mood or having a bad day. It wasn't until it was all over and I felt happy again that I knew that something had been wrong for the past couple of months. Knowing I have been depressed is always retrospective though. I don't know until it's over. Oh, and cycling helps a lot.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby betterthanwalking » Sun Oct 10, 2010 8:03 pm

I don't like taking days off from riding but know that I can make myself sick from doing too much. Needing to work and get paid forces the rest.

Feeling physically stronger after a weekend off makes it worth the rest.

Coming from the UK where the amount of daylight swings more through the seasons than in Australia. I wonder how that affects the instances of SAD, seasonal affective disorder down here. Basically, seeing more of the sun is good for you. Reducing depression and making Vitamin D.

I don't know that I would have classed myself as depressed but I definitely feel much brighter through the summer.

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