How can electric bikes improve mental health?October 9th 2020
It’s generally accepted that getting out and about, enjoying fresh air and regular exercise, is a positive thing. Far from needing to train hard or to a specific plan, just getting regular physical activity is proven to help reduce stress, anxiety and low mood, while improving both physical and mental wellbeing.
If you own an e-bike (or, indeed, an ordinary pedal bike) then you already have access to one of the most powerful tools to help improve mental health that there is. Whether its access to fresh air, sunlight exposure, a sense of achievement at having made a journey using your own legs, or simply time away from a screen or being stuck behind a steering wheel, it’s so easy to feel the benefits of getting out on a bike.
In support of World Mental Health Day 2020, we uncover how riding e-bikes could help improve your mental health and wellbeing.
A problem magnified
In current times with restrictions varying across the country, many of us are spending much more time at home, whether it be for work or shielding from public spaces. This seems set to increase now that we’re experiencing colder temperatures, longer and darker nights, plus rising COVID-19 infection rates and tighter government restrictions in specific areas.
In the face of this, it’s still really important to make that effort to get out for some fresh air when at all possible, and, while sticking to Government social distancing guidance, socialise too.
Just being outside and hoovering up some precious vitamin D is renowned for enhancing your wellbeing – just 15-20 minutes of direct sun light per day is said to be sufficient to gain a benefit.  There have also been many assertions about its value in relation to COVID-19. Recent studies have found vitamin D to help reduce the severity and mortality rate associated with COVID-19, and a deficiency to increase the likelihood of it being contracted. [2,3,4]
If you gain these fresh air benefits by riding an e-bike, all the better, as you then benefit from the natural release of endorphins – that happy, satisfied feeling associated with physical activity and exercise.
Long term mental health
While these easy wins in the current climate are great, getting out in the fresh air and exercising can have a strong influence on your future mental health too.
For example, no one likes the thought of dementia in old age, but there are recommendations that you can follow that could lessen your risk – and they don’t all involve sudoku and crosswords to keep the mind sharp, but call upon physical activity too. The NHS cites research suggesting that other risk factors for dementia include social isolation and sitting for most of the day, while there are obvious benefits for cardiac and respiratory health too.
The mental health benefits of e-biking don’t stop there – but actually increase when you consider the stress of driving or sitting on public transport. If you currently have to use public transport, the worry about being in an enclosed space with others is a source of anxiety for many – 86% are concerned for their health when using public transport. 
So much so, that many people are choosing to avoid buses and trains entirely. National Rail and London underground usage is around 40% of pre-lockdown levels, with bus usage at around 55% to 60% of pre-lockdown levels. 
The alternative for journeys that can’t be completed on foot is often to use a car. Getting the economy started again has led to a dramatic rise in traffic congestion since the depths of lockdown – traffic levels are nearly back to pre-lockdown levels. This gives rise to the all-to-familiar stress that many of us experience every day – frustration of sitting still, worry about being late, plus any guilt of knowing that the journey could be made in a cleaner, more ecological and economical way!
Riding an e-bike offers many sources of more positive mental wellbeing – the very act of not driving in congestion really could significantly reduce your stress levels.
Feel good factor
On top of this, by contributing to improved air quality for the neighbourhood that you travel through, and for the globe as a whole by reducing your carbon footprint in your daily actions, you can get a real feel good factor – never mind the fact that there’s no stress about where to park and the cost of it when you reach your destination!
Perhaps even better is that when we achieve improved air quality together, this will inevitably have positive effects on our overall health and wellbeing as we’re able to enjoy it more.
Our official ‘Cycle-to-Work’ scheme partners, Cyclescheme, recently conducted some research into how cyclists feel as a result of cycling to work. The infographic below shows the stats on the positive impact it made on their mental wellbeing. Most notably, 82% felt a reduction in stress feelings in the office, 48% felt happier and more self confident, as well as 47% reporting a long-term impact on their happiness levels as a result of cycling to work.
To understand more about Cyclescheme, and how you can save up to 39% on the cost of a new e-bike plus accessories, read the full Cyclescheme webpage.
This means that we can confidently say that cycling to work reduces stress and anxiety, while combatting depression and increasing self-esteem; compelling reasons to integrate two-wheeled transport into your life.
We can’t always promise you the best weather for cycling in the UK, but we can tell you it’ll probably make you feel better!
- Daily Telegraph ‘As MPs ask Matt Hancock to supplement the nation, can vitamin D actually help with Covid?’ (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/mps-ask-matt-hancock-supplement-nation-can-vitamin-d-actually/) 8/10/20.
- “Effect of calcifediol treatment and best available therapy versus best available therapy on intensive care unit admission and mortality among patients hospitalized for COVID-19: A pilot randomized clinical study” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7456194/) 29/08/20.
- “Vitamin D deficiency increased risk of COVID in healthcare workers, new UK study shows” (https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2020/10/vitamin-d-deficiency-increased-risk-of-covid-in-healthcare-workers-new-uk-study-shows.aspx#:~:text=Author%20Professor%20David%20Thickett%2C%20from,the%20UK%20and%20globally%20that) 07 Oct 2020.
- “Vitamin D appears to play role in COVID-19 mortality rates” (https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2020/05/vitamin-d-appears-to-play-role-in-covid-19-mortality-rates/) 07/05/20.
- Department for Transport ‘National Attitudes to Travel’ survey, (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/924959/national-travel-attitudes-study-wave-4-provisional.pdf) 8/10/20.
- UK ‘Transport use during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’ (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/transport-use-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic) 7/10/20.