The pandemic has brought us indoors, a lot of stress, uncertainty and more time staring at screens. To beat the pandemic blues and to reconnect with nature cycling could very well be the ideal tonic.
Table of contents
- Feelings of freedom
- Health benefits
- Take the long way
- Reconnect and the concept of Friluftsliv
- Final thoughts
The global pandemic has had an enormous impact on life as we know it. How we socialise, work and navigate daily life is very different now to how it was before the crisis started to unfold.
We are spending huge amounts of time inside and the longing to be in nature with a sense of freedom has never been more keenly felt. In order to get outside safely, more and more people are turning to cycling to ride out the lockdown blues and to get around safely.
Cycling is often recommended by governments and also by the WHO as a way of getting your minimum daily exercise, getting around and reducing stress.
Read on to find out how the best way to see out the lockdown blues could be from the saddle of a bike.
Feelings of Freedom
The enforced lockdown and concerns about health and safety have kept us contained behind four walls much more than we are probably used to.
Simple acts that we previously took for granted such as going for an afternoon jog through the local park, meeting friends for coffee downtown or taking your Mom to her favourite restaurant suddenly became banned or so fraught with risk that they are best avoided.
These measure are in place of course to keep us safe but the lure of heading out into the sunshine with a sense of freedom is almost too much to bear at times.
Jumping on the bike and simply riding around can give you a sense of freedom that can only be felt from the saddle of a bicycle. You can feel the wind in your hair, the sun (or rain!) on your skin and the buzz gained from the hit of serotonin and dopamine as you push and pull yourself through the outdoors.
The feelings of freedom coupled with the thrill of simply riding a bike will no doubt have you cruising around with a large grin and childlike feelings of glee that will stay with you hours after you lock the bike up for the day.
By using the bike as a means to get around your local town, city or neighbourhood you'll feel empowered that you can get to the places you wanted to safely while getting the health, mood and energy benefits gained from exercise.
For a lot of us, it's probably safe to say we are moving and exercising much less during the pandemic. Zoom life has its advantages but a study from Iowa university shows that the pandemic, subsequent lockdowns and social distancing measures have resulted in a 32 percent reduction in activity.
Being inside for most of the day and not getting any exercise isn't very healthy. But catching COVID-19 isn't exactly advised for good health either which is why cycling is an ideal option because it's relatively safe even during the pandemic.
In order to keep healthy during the crisis the WHO recommends:
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day for adults and an hour a day for kids
- If you’re allowed to go outside, go for a walk, run or bike ride while keeping a safe distance from others
- If you can’t leave the house, dance, do some yoga or walk up and down the stairs
- People working from home shouldn’t sit too long in the same position
- Take a 3 minute break every 30 minutes
- Get your mind off of the crisis. Listen to music, read a book or play a game
Looking at the above recommendations by the WHO jumping on the saddle of a bike could be your safest ticket to a better mood, health and also out of the house.
Take the long way
The bike opens up the chance to travel to places on roads you’ve never been on before and also gives you a chance to appreciate actually where you are and your surroundings. We get so caught up on where we are going to at times we take no notice of the places we pass along the way.
On a commuter train, with your face pressed up against the glass isn't the ideal place to be at the moment and taking the long road on the bike lets you appreciate your surroundings and really take in the landscape.
You might have been to the same place 100 times previously by car or public transport but the first time you go on the bike it will be a completely different experience.
I recently needed to go from Kyoto to Osaka so instead of taking the train I rode my bike and for the first time really understood the geography of the area and how the two cities are connected.
The ride was fantastic and I experienced moments of sheer joy as I pedalled through the heart of Kansai, Japan.
Taking the long way on the bike gave me a greater appreciation for the environment and the place I live.
I realised that the two cities aren’t actually that far apart and the overall history of the two cities including why they are in their current locations also became much clearer.
Reconnecting and Friluftsliv
During the pandemic it's been really important to remind ourselves of our values by going out and experiencing the bliss of isolated forests and taking time to appreciate where our materials come from.
In Scandinavia there is a concept called 'Friluftsliv' which is something we can really relate to. It roughly translates to "open-air living" and summarises a nordic passion for nature which places a high value on spending time in remote locations.
During the pandemic, the bike has been key to experiencing a sense of Friluftsliv and getting that all-important dose of wellbeing that only nature can provide.
Now more than ever, it's important to find ways that we can experience the beauty of nature until the pandemic passes.
Cycling has been an ideal way to get some independence back, do some exercise and increase my overall mood.
If you decide to get out on the bike during the pandemic be sure to wear a helmet, be safe and avoid stopping at the cafe for you pre-ride caffeine fix!