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

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

Postby rockviewau » Sun Oct 10, 2010 10:45 pm

in winter i am generally shittier, and crave the start of daylight savings... moving to canberra where it is colder than sydney didnt help, but i did know that cycling made me happier,,,, once i got off my backside and rode, in the freezing cold.... i have a goal with my cycling and that is weightloss for my wedding and that keeps me motivated and happy when im riding.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby notwal » Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:11 am

Gee there's a lot of it about isn't there.

I add my endorsement for the exercise fix and add that cycling seems the best in my experience although I think swimming may be just as effective.
Of cycling, windsurfing, weight training and walking I would say cycling is best but they all work to some degree. I think cycling just seems to invite more work or rather the work load is widely tunable so you find yourself whimsically extending yourself and even after putting in a grunty effort you can keep going.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Chops » Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:49 am

Downhill wrote: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


Exactly. That's what I like about cycling. You can go as hard or as easy as you want, and how you're feeling. If you're doing weights, you're working hard regardless. Same with running (for me). You can cruise to clear your head and have a look, or you can push it.

But sometimes just clocking up k's in the morning (when I generally ride poorly), is really nice. A couple of spots I often head to especially in the morning because you see some really cool birds.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Uncle Grumpy » Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:29 am

The "winter blues" is actually a recognised issue called "Seasonal Affective Disorder" though I've also seen it referred to seasonal Adjustment disorder.

Basically, the reduced light or winter is the culprit. I think though there might be complicating factors, such as becoming a little more sedentary.

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

Postby twizzle » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:12 am

Yay! for St Johns Wort. Haven't used it this year.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Tim » Mon Oct 11, 2010 2:05 pm

I once heard a professional head shrink on the wireless describe depression as the absence of joy from ones life.
I am also prone to bouts of the cursed condition but when I ride I experience a return of that joy. Cycling is fun.
I live on the Gippsland Lakes, which, with the arrival of Spring brings about a cheerful explosion of new life. On a bike I can see, hear and smell the lambs and calves, the greener new grass, wildflowers, birdlife, echidnas, bluetongues, wallabies, snakes, (some admittedly flattened on the roadside), warm winds, boats, and all manner of things that restore that sometimes missing joy.
Cycling on its own helps ease depression, but now that Winter is over it has become even more enjoyable.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Downhill » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:15 am

On the flip side, cycling is an outdoor activity (for most of us). Unlike indoor sports that can be undertaken in any weather and at any time of day, outdoor activities like cycling tend to drop off in winter because of adverse conditions and shorter daylight hours. This contributes to S.A.D. I did an indoor sport for many years and I certainly noticed the difference when I switched to cycling.

The human body is genetically disposed to slowing down in winter. It makes me wonder whether a big part of S.A.D. is purely the lack of exercise.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby toolonglegs » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:44 am

I actually enjoy cycling in the depths of winter (thou you won't find me complaining when the snows melt either :wink: ).
Anyway today I took the decision to start riding again...I have to take pain killers daily anyway so might as well get outdoors for a ride.
Result...20kms (at a pretty slow av I am sure!)...but even thou I am in a fair bit of pain now,I enjoyed myself all the same...good medicine for the head!.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby DrJay » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:27 am

OK, a couple of thoughts:

Firstly, thankyou everyone for keeping the discussion helpful, particularly given people disclosing about their mental health.

Secondly, my disclosure: I haven't had depression, but I am a headshrinker.

Thirdly, there is excellent evidenced for exercise in depression, even just walking. It is thought to be chemically mediated by the endorphins, but all the reasons given about getting out and about, seeing stuff, etc are also valid.

Fourthly, sunlight probably also is a factor. Seasonal Affective Disorder is real, and is largely thought to be related to daylight hours. it's much more pronounced at higher latitudes where the variation in daylight hours from season to season is greater. We also tend to experience a rush of manic episodes for people with Bipolar Disorder (especially type I) in spring. (as in "the ward is half full of manics, it must be spring", which I've heard more than once). One of my patients has a significant seasonal component and I spend all winter trying to treat his depression, only to have spring fix it. Another gets psychotically manic every summer, unless she takes a particular medication with significant side effects; so she only takes it in summer!

Fifth, I'm not familiar with all the books recommended, but the Sarah Edelman book is excellent, so is Beating the Blues, by Sue Tanner and Gillian Ball (which is a local one).
Humans are not so much rational beings, as rationalizing ones.

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

Postby BarryTas » Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:22 am

+1 very important


before i got my gym membership, i would be climbing the walls if it was raining at the weekends.

Now day light saving has kicked in i am a very happy chappy
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby malnar » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:29 pm

Outdoor exercise is very important for keeping my dysthymia (chronic lower lever depression) at bay.
My life is grey, disengaged and generally blah. I take pleasure in music and outdoor exercise and that’s about it. Sometimes I don’t feel like heading out for exercise but I’ve never regretted a single session. I always feel better during, and for a while after exercise. When I’m exercising my whole persona is more confident and optimistic.

After a commute to work I feel serene and quietly awesome for a while. I almost can’t believe it’s me that has achieved what I have (relatively moderate as they are).

I live near the Werribee river. Last summer I bit the bullet and went for a tentative swim. I had no ill effects and absolutely loved it. In the end I did about 30 swims in the river last summer (usually about 400m upstream & back again). Can’t wait to get back in there again as soon as the weather’s warm enough. That will be a magnificent way to finish a 32km commute home.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby roobab » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:09 pm

Cycling is like flying. You are elevated off the ground and glide along, which is why Magpies hate us.
Plus, the extra oxygen outdoors makes me feel better.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Downhill » Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:49 pm

malnar wrote:Outdoor exercise is very important for keeping my dysthymia (chronic lower lever depression) at bay.
My life is grey, disengaged and generally blah. I take pleasure in music and outdoor exercise and that’s about it. Sometimes I don’t feel like heading out for exercise but I’ve never regretted a single session. I always feel better during, and for a while after exercise. When I’m exercising my whole persona is more confident and optimistic.

After a commute to work I feel serene and quietly awesome for a while. I almost can’t believe it’s me that has achieved what I have (relatively moderate as they are).

I live near the Werribee river. Last summer I bit the bullet and went for a tentative swim. I had no ill effects and absolutely loved it. In the end I did about 30 swims in the river last summer (usually about 400m upstream & back again). Can’t wait to get back in there again as soon as the weather’s warm enough. That will be a magnificent way to finish a 32km commute home.


Part of my reason for cycling is that the aerobic workout allows me to enjoy other activities even more. It's great for getting "scuba" fit in time for summer. Good for bush walking too. The exercise produces an avalanche effect, because getting fit in one sport allows you to enjoy more activities, which extends your social network, which makes you more active ... and on it goes.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Orion » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:54 pm

Another one with depression here (since mid-2006). I take anti-depressants and have tried a couple of times to get off them. Most recently was last year. I slowly weaned off them and I felt okay. I'm pretty sure cycling helped with this to maintain a reasonable mood.

Earlier this year I suffered a major exacerbation of depression - so bad I ended up quitting work. Didn't ride for several weeks which probably didn't help either. In hindsight maybe a leave of absence from work might have been a better idea but this horrible depression impacts my ability to think clearly.

Cycling has been very important in my recovery this time around. I think it's a combination of the exercise and being outside. I live in a semi-rural area and there are a lot of pretty areas to ride around.

So year, cycling is pretty important to me.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Downhill » Sun Oct 17, 2010 1:16 pm

I think the goal setting that naturally comes with cycling also helps. Every time I jump on the bike I automatically try to improve my previous performance in some way. It might be distance travelled, time taken, average speed, maximum speed, etc. Any improvement brings a measure of achievement and satisfaction. It doesn't have to be a personal best either. Even the knowledge that I'm maintaining a set of disciplines makes a difference.
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Reality Is For People Who Can't Handle Endorphins....

Postby Quinns Rocks Roadie » Sun Oct 17, 2010 1:58 pm

I cycle because I enjoy it....the buzz of going down a fast hill, the thrill of sliding tyres on the favorite roundabout, the fun of catching up another rider and then dropping them, the general rewards of being fitter than most.
Riding to work I find is of great benefit....you arrive warmed up, alert and ready to go.
When I don't ride I get slack, content to sit on the couch, listening to tv, sipping beer, wasting far too much time on forums like this one, and nothing gets done !. :oops:
Being fit is tonic for life in general.

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

Postby jules21 » Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:49 pm

Chops wrote: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?

i think it helps but i wouldn't call it fundamental. depression has causes and you can't simplify it to just always lack of exercise. i have suffered and it was a journey to overcome it, for the time being at least. i learned a lot about myself in overcoming it - what made me tick. exercise is important but it's not a cure on its own. i do think it better equips you to deal with some of the challenges that can trigger depression, though.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby cavebear2 » Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:21 pm

toolonglegs wrote:Anyway today I took the decision to start riding again...I have to take pain killers daily anyway so might as well get outdoors for a ride.
Result...20kms (at a pretty slow av I am sure!)...but even thou I am in a fair bit of pain now,I enjoyed myself all the same...good medicine for the head!.
All the best Ian & looking forward to better days to come! :)

As for me, cycling has transformed my life - I hate spending too many hours off the bike. :lol:
I just love the eating side of things plus my wife is actually enjoying the whole cycling thing. We rode out to the Swan Valley yesterday (53 km round trip) for a long lunch at our favourite local winery. After the ride back I went for a quick 36km ride and felt totally on top of things, not feeling as if I had over eaten or over imbibed which is how I would have felt if I had driven home and sat in front of the TV after a large meal and a few wines.

My outlook has trended very much to the positive side with 'this cycling life' of mine. Whizzing down the long hill near Canning Dam on Saturday I could relate to Cadel Evans Book title 'Close to Flying'.
Also the long battle with injury (3 years) with my subsequent recent success/victory has played a role in my current simple and contented state of happiness.

Gotta love those endorphins! :D
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby miyata84 » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:09 pm

....as long as none of us get depressed when we sit down and tally up how much we have actually spent at Wiggles, CRC, Ribbles and PBK!
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby flammer » Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:52 pm

miyata84 wrote:....as long as none of us get depressed when we sit down and tally up how much we have actually spent at Wiggles, CRC, Ribbles and PBK!


That's why I don't add it up! :roll: And by buying when the AU$ is up and I save $2 in FX, I feel justified.

Back to the topic; I agree with lots of the above. Though bagging antidepressants is like telling hypertension sufferers to calm down.

On Sunday I was feeling generally 'blah', physically and emotionally. Almost didn't ride. But decided that it was the needed tonic. It really kicked in when I pumped up a short, very sharp hill, 20 km in. Felt great then! More rolling hills and then pushed hard for 20 km. Break for coke and powerbar and pumped the last 20.

Serotonin, ladies and gentlemen, is produced by hard exercise and sleeping. We need it for everything from mood management to digestion. So cycling for me makes me happier. :D
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby open roader » Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:11 pm

Cycling is my mind cleanser. I ride solo nearly always and on country roads so I'm able to leave all else behind and pretty much nothing gets in my face. It's my selfish time, only me and my thoughts to deal with.

After a ride I find I'm far more decisive, casting aside procrastinations which might have built up over time and I have plans and strategy worked out for how to tackle the stuff of life.

The only time I returned from a ride on a lower ebb was when I first took up cycling after a long hiatus (25 years) and I had pushed myself too hard. That only happened once. I can honestly say both my mental and physical states are 'enhanced' with cycling in my life.

I work as a gardener, tending to 3 very large gardens, so I'm regularly doing moderate power work during the course of my duties. Cycling has improved my endurance so I find work easier to complete. 18 months ago I was buggered after most days at work. Now I can work 6 hours straight and go for a 20/30/40/50 km ride when I get home and then sit up 'til 11:00pm telling this forum all about it.........!!

Cycling is a very big plus, quite the mood elevator for me.
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Downhill » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:02 am

open roader wrote:...Cycling is my mind cleanser...


You're not wrong there. One of the reasons why I cycle is to keep my mind sharp. I've noticed that when I keep fit, I seem to have more of those "light bulb" moments when it comes to problem solving. By that, I mean those flashes of inspiration when the solution to a tough problem just pops into your head and leaves you wondering, "Now where did that come from?"

I'm no expert, but I've heard that the compounds released by the body during exercise vastly improve the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. This allows the brain to reconnect with the specific cells that have stored a particular memory when the need for that memory becomes significant.

There's one thing for sure - go for a ride today and things will appear to flow much more smoothly at work tomorrow. You will be far more productive and that assists in creating a positive frame of mind.

Todays effort = tomorrow's reward. :idea:
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby flammer » Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:24 pm

That's the serotonin kicking in. :D http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serotonin
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Re: How Important is Cycling/ Exercise to Your Mood/ Depress

Postby Chops » Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:54 pm

Certainly noticing it at the moment.

Just bouncing off the walls.
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