I don't think that there is a cyclist out there that doesn't agrees that cycling is great for their mental health. All physical activity can give you a boost to your mental well being, but cycling really does give that added boost to your mental health and here are a few reasons I think why.
You can see the fitness gains
If you are just starting out or you have been cycling for some time, you can see the improvements on your fitness. Cycling particularly promotes your cardiovascular fitness. If you cycle regularly you will see that your fitness level is much higher than much of the population, that can make you all feel confident and be able the achieve more in the life.
It takes you to your flow state
There is a term called the flow state. It's where we are at our most creative. Do you every get back from a ride just feeling inspired to do and achieve more? Well that's probably because you went into your flow state. It can be described as when you are doing an activity that does not require much thought and often quite repetitive, like the revolutions of your legs moving the bike. We can be on our own and the hours just pass. We can also get into the flow state through activities like painting. Getting outdoors in beautiful scenery give added flow status, but you can also get there just through pedaling on your indoor trainer.
You can get outdoors
Being outdoors has loads of benefits to our mental health, for me I find just looking at the change in the seasons is very soothing and exploring my local surroundings. Research also shows that people connected with nature are usually happier in life and more likely to report that their lives are worthwhile. So good to know that in this age where we live with pressure of productivity and deadlines that hanging out outdoors can make us feel valued.
You can build social networks
Interesting as cycling can be quite a solitary sport. There is no obligation to practice it with others, but maybe that's why we do value the social side of it. I find it's a great connector knowing that others understand your passion, even if you do like riding alone for hours you value that others get it too. Many of us have regular groups that we ride with where there is always someone there to enjoy a ride with. Having that support is key to our mental security.
We support each others
As cyclist we seem to have a natural urge to help others pursue our passion. We often do it because we know someone has supported us and give our support guidance to others. Helping others can lead to the 'helps' high in which can boost self-esteem, release endorphins, promotes happiness and combats feelings of depression.
Having goals helps us provide purpose
It's always going to feel like we have more purpose when we have goals to work towards. Whether it be to get faster up a climb, to fit another cycling session in per a week or training for an event. It forces us to become more reflective beings, learn about ourselves and enjoy the sense of achievement that we set out what we intended to do.