How Cycling Can Boost Your Mental Health – GCN Does Science

(logo swooshing) (gentle orchestral music) – I know what you’re thinking. That is a seriously cool hat. Probably out of your budget
though, and with good reason. It is no ordinary hat. It’s monitoring and recording blood flow in my brain while I’m
doing a fitness test. The reason for it is to demonstrate that cycling has an
effect on how our brains actually function, as well as our bodies. And that means that as
well as being enjoyable, although not perhaps this exact bit, riding can also be a powerful tool to combat the stresses of modern life. We’ve come up to Oxford University, which has been at the forefront of mental health research
for many, many years. And recently they’ve been looking into the effects of exercise on mental health. And in doing so, they
discovered that cyclists suffer, on average, 21.6% fewer
days of poor mental health on any given month, compared
to people who didn’t exercise. And in fact, cycling was
second only to team sports in its effectiveness in this regard. So to find out a little
bit more about this and get some much-needed practical advice on how we can use cycling to
improve our own mental health, we’ve come up to meet the
author of that research and some of his colleagues. Before we do though, I think
we should go back a step. I began by talking about stress, but the research talks
about mental health. So what actually distinguishes the two? Well, not very much. They’re all interlinked. Stress is very common. Many of us are familiar with it, I’m sure. It’s our body’s way of dealing with situations it perceives as threatening. You get a release of certain hormones which then trigger a response
from our cardiovascular, our respiratory, and our nervous systems. It makes you hyper-alert, ready to fight, and very useful in small doses. But elevated stress levels over
medium to long-term can have really negative consequences
on our physical health, not to mention the repercussions
on our mental health. It can lead to depression and anxiety. A lot of us perhaps are unfamiliar with the symptoms of those,
but when you hear the list, might actually sound quite familiar. You might feel sad or empty. You might feel irritable
or hopeless, angry. You might have lost interest in your work or family or hobbies. You might struggle to concentrate. You might be feeling overwhelmingly tired, but yet still struggle to sleep. And it might change your
eating habits as well, either causing you to overeat
or indeed not eat at all. Now, I’ll be really honest. I was surprised when I
recognized myself in that list. I mean, I consider myself
a very happy person, but yet clearly on reflection, there have been times in
my life when I’ve undergone some kind of mental health event. Now, I’m not alone in
that, not by a long shot. One in four people will have experienced mental health issues in the last year, one in six people in any given week. Now, in severe cases, of course, some kind of long-term
treatment will be needed, whether that’s psychological
therapies or indeed medication. But yet as we saw from
those initial statistics from Sammi Chekroud’s research, physical exercise can have
a really positive effect, both in treatment and prevention, and with cycling right
at the top of that list. How though? Well, here we are, back where we started, although we have changed universities. This is the Human Performance
Centre at Oxford Brookes, which is very conveniently
just down the road. And the scientists here are kindly about to put me through my
paces whilst wearing this, which is not a novelty hat,
but actually an infrared imaging system called
near-infrared spectroscopy. And what it’s gonna do is show changes in blood flow to different
areas of my brain, meaning that we should be able to see in real time how that
changes as I start to ride. (laid back electronic music) As well as monitoring the
blood flow in my brain, I also, as you can see, have a mask on to collect expired gases to give the team a clear indication of how hard I’m trying, in addition to my heart rate,
which is being recorded, as well as my power being
measured by the Elite trainer. The test begins with riding
at 150 watts for four minutes before getting back to a baseline, then four minutes at 250 watts, then recovery before a final four minutes at nearly VO2 max, so about 425 watts. Three really distinct
intensities to hopefully provide a snapshot of how it
relates to brain function. – So we’ve got the system on your head, and it’s measuring change in blood flow in the front of your brain. So what we can see on the
screen is change in activity, in terms of change in
amount of hemoglobin, as reflective of change in blood flow. – Okay.
– So hopefully showing a change in activity in those areas. (laid back electronic music) So what we’ll do is wait here now until your heart rate comes back down to what it was at resting. – Okay.
– So plus or minus 10%. – Cool.
– Okay, so we’ll just keep you sat there. (Simon panting) Are you happy to keep this going? – Yes.
– Okay. ‘Cause you’re working hard.
– Yes. – [Aide] How would you
rate your breathlessness? – [Simon] 18. – 18, and how hard you’re working? – [Simon] Right now? – [Aide] As you were at the
end of the stage, just– – Okay, 18.
– 18. – I’m not gonna lie, I was quite glad to get that one over with,
although I will just say, actually, it probably wasn’t
quite as bad as it looked. Well, as you can see, the hat is gone, but instead we’re armed with
some quite incredible data. It’s taken a lot of hard
work to get to this point. And to talk us through it,
we’ve got Professor John Geddes, who’s the head of psychiatry
at Oxford University, which is adjacent to Oxford
Brookes, where we are now. Is there anything that
we can actually see then from this data that shows
that my brain starts to work differently as I’m cycling harder? – Yeah, there is. We can sort of look at
the results of the scan. And we were looking particularly
at your frontal lobes. So we’re looking at the areas of the brain that are particularly
involved in decision-making, if you like, the control
center of the brain. So it’s looking at decision-making
and the initiation of and maintaining goal-directed activity, and some of the kind
of emotional processing that happens in the brain too. And we can see some differences, even though it’s just
you, and there’s obviously lots of limitations to
looking at one person, and the way we did the experiment
didn’t allow for warmup. But nonetheless, you know,
it indicates that the way that the frontal lobe is
activated at different levels of intensity of exercise
do differ in your case. – [Simon] The data that
Professor Geddes is referring to can be overlaid on a diagram of my brain. Each circle represents
the approximate location of one of the infrared light sensors. The shaded areas show
the parts of my brain where those centers detected a decrease in oxygenated blood as I rode harder, and then now where there was
a corresponding increase. The theory then is that an
increase in blood supply would follow an increase in activity. – Well, what we can see is
that, depending on the effort, so whether you’re going at the
50% effort or the 90% effort, so I think that was 420 watts. – Something like that, I think, yeah. – Kicking out over, which obviously takes some degree of maintaining, then the area of the
brain that is focusing on maintaining that kind of goal increases as you go to the
higher level of effort. So we can’t actually
map the brain activity onto real understanding of exactly what processes are involved. At this point it’s more
being able to detect that there are differences
in this really key part of the brain,
depending on the effort. So the implication of
that is if you have to put more attention and concentration
on maintaining that goal, then it will involve an activation of different parts of the frontal lobe. – Okay, so there’s a greater activity on my sort of goal-focused
part of my brain. What then would that be at the expense of? What part of my brain is potentially getting less oxygenated blood? – Well, from this we can’t see that. But on the ratings, there are other areas of the frontal lobe that
might be doing less. So it might be by putting
more focus and attention into the goal-directed parts of the brain, you may be removing some of
the effort from other parts. But from the basis of this experiment, we couldn’t really say
exactly what activities you’re under-investing at that point. But there’s only so much blood going around the brain at any point, so clearly by focusing
on one particular area, you’re gonna be freeing up other areas. That’s about as far as
we can go with this one. – Well, I mean, purely
subjectively, it’s fascinating, because I find personally
that when I ride, if I’m riding gently, then my
sort of internal monologue, my hamster wheel is going nonstop. But the harder I ride, the
less I think about stuff, and the more I’m just sort
of in the moment and riding, which is why I probably
tend to ride everywhere as fast as I can, ’cause that,
for me, is my relaxation. And so does that kind of tally up then with what we’ve seen on this data? – Well, I think it does. It’s really fascinating, isn’t it, because we know that the way
that we engage with thinking can have quite substantial effects on our sense of wellbeing, relaxation. I mean, it underlies some of the other kind of
therapies that we’ve got. Things like mindfulness, where one changes the way you’re interacting
with your external world and the way that you’re
focusing on things. So I think it could well
be, not an explanation, but I think it could fit in with that subjective sense that you have, that by putting more effort into meeting a particular goal in cycling, then you find that more relaxing. It is interesting.
– It is fascinating. The good news, I guess
then, is that you know, in the short-term, there
is a significant impact on the way my brain’s functioning. The bad news is that for me,
mindfulness is 425 watts. (John laughing) Armed then with the knowledge
that exercise clearly has an effect on brain
function in the short-term, we are now off to the
psychiatry department of Oxford University to
meet with Sammi Chekroud. He’s the author of that research
we’ve already mentioned, very casually titled Association
Between Physical Exercise and Mental Health in 1.2 million Americans Between 2011 and 2015,
A Cross-Sectional Study, looking now, not at
the short-term effects, but the medium and the
long-term effects instead. (gentle orchestral music) So firstly then, how
did you actually sample such a large group of people? – So basically, every year the Center for Disease Control in the
United States deploys this thing called the Behavioral Risk
Factors Surveillance Survey, where they literally call people up in the States from every state in America, and they have this long list of questions where they get all kinds
of information on people. And then every two
years, they also collect information about people’s
exercise behaviors. So how regularly people
exercise on average, and when they do exercise, how long for, what their kind of intensity is, and what kind of exercise
they primarily do. So that data’s freely
available, it’s just online. We downloaded the data and
just kind of went from there. – So what do the stats
actually tell us then, about exercise and mental health? – So broadly, what we
found is that there was a strong association between exercising and a worse mental health burden. So people were asked in the last month, how many bad days of
mental health did you have? So it’s quite all-encompassing, included things like stress, like mood. And we found that people who exercised versus people who didn’t
were associated with about 40% fewer days, bad mental health, than people who didn’t exercise. So it’s quite a big effect. And then because we have information on the type of exercise that people do and how often people
exercised and how long for, you can also look at specific features, like are some exercises better than others for mental health, are some durations of exercise
better than other durations, and are some frequencies
better than others, and found this kind of sweet spot where exercising for
three to five times a week for about 45 minutes each time was associated with the
best mental health outcome, and that once you look
at the type of exercise, that cycling came in as number two, just behind popular team sports, the kind of sports that
you would play at school. So things like football, rugby,
hockey, that kind of thing. And then with aerobic and gym exercises coming in close behind in third. – Now, is it possible
to tell from the data whether or not it’s the exercise itself that helps to improve
people’s mental health or whether actually people who exercise typically have intrinsically
better mental health? – The study that we employed was what’s called a cross-sectional study. So we basically take a camera
and take a big snapshot of a large group of
people at one time point. And what that means is
because you don’t track people over time and you don’t make
people do certain things, you can’t look specifically at causality. But what we can do is we can say at the level of a population, which has never really been done before. Typically, previous, kind
of more controlled studies will use sample sizes of somewhere between 50 and a couple of hundred. Instead we have a really large sample, and we can look more
broadly at the association. And then further research is needed to look at the really fine-grain
specifics of causality. But it’s really hard to know, because there’s two
quite intuitive things, which is if you feel bad and
you then start exercising, that’s something that you can control, and there’s definitely an aspect of taking ownership of your
mood, and that can help you, and exercise is one way of doing that. But also if you suffer
from low mood or stress, you’re less likely to exercise,
which can then end up having this kind of spiral
with your mood as well. So it’s likely that it is bi-directional. And other research has suggested that it is probably bi-directional, but it’s really hard to tease apart. – Now, if you type exercise
and mental health into Google, your research is everywhere. The mainstream media picked up on it, left, right, and center. Now, to me I kind of thought, well, clearly it’s a big story. Mental health is a big story. But also it suggests to me that perhaps people were surprised by
the results that you got. Were you surprised, or
did you kind of anticipate that this would be the outcome? – So the media kind of
pick up on these things ’cause they kind of like
gimmicks and phases. But it’s also because
it’s really accessible. People exercise, and
it’s really well-known that exercise boosts your physical, like you feel fitter, you feel better. You can see the effects on your body. But the kind of effects
on your mental health are maybe a little bit less well-known. Because previous research has
been on quite small samples, even if it’s been more controlled, it’s hard to know how well it generalizes. So looking at such a large scale, you actually can’t
really make any intuition as to whether it’s gonna
remain as an effect, whether it will kind of be obliterated, or even about the size of it. It could’ve turned out to be a really small effect at
the level of the population, but actually it seemed to
hold, at least in our study. – Now, as a cycling nerd, I, well, first of all I
was particularly pleased to see that cycling
comes out at number two. But also there’s so many
different types of cycling. Even just in my own hobby, I ride on road and I ride off road and I ride
indoors and I ride outdoors and I ride on my own and with groups. Can you look at the data
in a more granular way, specific to certain sports? – Yeah, I think it’s really interesting. So on the basis of our study,
because it is quite large and some of the information
is self-reported in it, which means that looking at
very specifics is quite hard, but cycling is this
really interesting sport where if you want, you can go alone. You can just kind of like, cycle on roads, you can cycle off roads, on your own, you can join a cycling
club where you also get this kind of sociality effect of it by being part of a group,
having kind of common goals on rides and things like that. It can have more psychological
benefits as well. So there’s definitely this
kind of situation in cycling, more so than in other sports
like football, for example, where you can be part of a
team or you can ride solo, depending on what you feel at any moment. And then this kind of difference between indoor versus outdoor. Most cyclists probably do both, depending on the time of year, but you probably also have a preference. And it’s hard to say from, on the back of at least our research, actually which is more beneficial, because the cycling group that we had included people who kind of
cycled outdoors and indoors, whether that was on a turbo
trainer or in a gym as well. So for that, you need a bit
more precise measurements. So you need people to tell you
what it is that they do most. – It’s perhaps not surprising
that there is still so much to learn about mental health, given the sheer
complexities of our brains. They contain about 100 billion cells. But as technology improves,
new avenues begin to open up. While at Oxford, we experimented with some more fancy headgear,
an EEG in this case. This time it’s monitoring electrical activity in the
brain, as opposed to blood flow. It’s portable, meaning
that our human guinea pig called Chris was able to
ride both indoors and out. One day, it could tell
us how the two activities might have different effects on the brain. Yet despite the fact that
there is a significant amount still to understand about
the brain and mental health, there is much that we do
know about ways to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. And so to get some advice, we’re back with Professor John Geddes, a psychiatrist by profession,
but also a bike rider. Are there any practical bits of advice that you could give us, perhaps to help us make
more of our cycling, with a view to helping our stress levels or anxiety or just general mental health? – Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think the first
thing is to recognize that you are feeling depressed or anxious. People will often kind of just ignore it and drive on and try and bash through it, and that’s not usually
the right thing to do. The right thing to do is
probably to reflect and work out what the causes are, whether
you can identify them. And if you can’t do that, then to reflect and think about what you
might be able to do different. And obviously if people think
cycling is enjoyable for them, to try and look at what
possible component it is about cycling that is helpful for them. For some people it’s the exercise, the cardiovascular
exercise and the rewards they get from that and
the increased fitness. That can have a very beneficial
effect on the way we feel. But other people, it’s
different things entirely. It’s such a rich activity. It can be riding with others
gives you social inclusion, and that’s a very useful thing to do if people are depressed. For other people, it’s
completely opposite. It’s riding alone, because they want space from other people. They want to be able to
relax away from others. Some people, you know, it’s the enjoyment about the manual fiddling
around and nerdery of cycles. That can be very pleasurable,
and it’s a real reward thing. So that might be useful for some people. ‘Cause as it gets to a more severe stage, those things might not work so much, and we might then need to go and get medical or clinical help in general, and get some different treatment. But we’re talking about the stage that many people experience of mild depression, anxiety, or stress. And that’s where things like cycling can be hugely beneficial. – Now, you touched a moment ago on more serious mental illnesses. I guess for a lot of what you said, it’s applicable to people with stress or anxiety or mild depression. But what about if you have
slightly more severe depression? What’s the steps that
you would need to take? – If you like, depression and
anxiety are on a continuum. So when it gets to a certain level, it starts having a fairly major effect on your ability to function, whether it be at work or
in your relationships. And it’s at that point that we tend to see it as a clinical disorder, and at that point it’s appropriate to get additional help for it. And the sorts of treatments
that are available for that vary between psychological therapies like cognitive behavior therapy or mindfulness-based therapy
or antidepressant drug therapy. Again, it’s difficult to
know for the individual who is going to respond to what. We’re not at the point of knowing how to recommend specific interventions. But as a general principle
for sort of mild to moderate, I would tend to go for the psychological or changing things,
increasing the exercise. But when it gets to a certain
stage of maybe moderate, then that’s when most
recommendations would be to at least consider
antidepressant treatment as well. – [Simon] Okay, but it would be. The first port of call would
be to go to your GP or– – Yeah, certainly in the
UK, then that would be, your general practitioner
would be to go to, or in other countries,
whoever the family doctor is in general, and that’s
usually the right way in. You can seek help through counselors or psychologists or
other psychotherapists. One of the difficulties is
knowing who delivers what, and knowing, again, what the
treatment is that they offer, whereas at least if you go in through the established health service route, you will tend to get something that is more defined and more reliable. – Invaluable advice. Firstly, admit that there is a problem. Then reflect on what it is that provides relief and do more of it. In the case of cycling, it
could be one of many aspects, but we are all different, so
undoubtedly it’s gonna require a little bit of self-analysis. For me it’s short, high-intensity rides, either on my own or with
a close friend or two on quiet roads or trails. As a defense against stress, this is as effective
as anything I’ve found. I hope you found this video
useful as well as informative. I, for one, have found it
absolutely fascinating, so I would just like
to say a big thank you to the staff at Oxford and
Oxford Brookes Universities for their help in making
this video possible, not least because I now feel
like I have scientific proof to show that I do indeed need
to ride my bike really hard regularly for the benefit
of my mental health. Now, do make sure you get involved in the comments section down below. And if you’d like to watch another video that’s on a topic very
similar to this one, click just down there.

100 thoughts on “How Cycling Can Boost Your Mental Health – GCN Does Science

  1. Fantastic video. Kudos GCN for focussing on this sort of content. For me personally, cycling outdoors will always be my favourite however I would suggest that the ability to cycle indoors (Zwift) when I'm unable to cycle outdoors would probably have the biggest impact on my mental health as I'm not missing out on my daily ride / workout. Keep up the good work!

  2. GCN does Uber (Mental) Science, indeed. And that's a compliment.

    Now I need to find my glass of coconut juice to raise a toast to you lot.

  3. My brain gives huge quantities of endorphins when I ride at threshold. I have learned to be careful about making decisions following hard exercise, as I can be overly optimistic (to put it mildly).
    When I did an hour record attempt last year, I was literally high for a week.

  4. A hard ride led me to chest pain (I thought I will have a heart attack), dizziness and panic attack. In periods with high stress, hard cycling worsen my anxiety and panic attacks were more often. I realized that training early in the morning with low intensity made my stress and anxiety disappear.

  5. One of the best, most informative videos I've seen for a long while. In fact, the quality and balance of information here was even superior to the output from the BBC and other mainstream sources. The approach to the subject incredibly subtle and worthwhile!

  6. There also seems to be a direct correlation between nice people and people who cycle – another great cycling professor. In his name, do we need a new GCN channel? The GCN Manual Nerdery Channel? (Love that!)

  7. Particularly when I am stressed, a good outdoor ride regardless of the weather clears the head and resets the soul to address what ever issues are at hand.

  8. Under periods of stress your body releases the "fight or flight" hormone. The problems occur when you can neither fight nor flight and are continually pumping out the hormone. Exercise takes the place of the "flight." Your body doesn't care if you're running from a bear or running a 5 K charity race.

  9. That survey might have best demonstrated who still has a land line in the U.S. and who's willing to answer a call and continue with a survey.

  10. So the fact that your mind wanders less when working hard explains a lot about turbo training, it's ok for a hard session but soul destroying for longer low effort ride. My happy place is hacking fast round the local single track, no time for the mind to wander.. well unless you want to hit a tree!

  11. Thank you for adressing this very important issue. One should really not decrease the level of exercise bellow a certain level when the number of tasks/work increases. For me, if I do not exercise for a week, I sort of start feeling down, even if there is not a set of reasons that I can identify as explanations. Also, I feel that going for a ride outdoors, specially when it´s a sunny winter day, is about the greatest thing one can do!

  12. This segment really illustrates how GCN continues to step up the value of the channel to our cycling community. Simon, and the whole channel, should be very proud of this effort.

  13. great video Simon . well done you and the team. The Sunday content gets better and better. Love the mix of seriousness and silliness. long live gcn!

  14. A million times yes! I have suffered with SAD since my teens, but have had the best winter of my life since getting a smart trainer and doing regular rides on Zwift (3-5 per week). A consistent sleep schedule and less booze have helped, but I’m going to attribute the biggest mood boost to exercise. Thanks GCN for turning me on to Zwift and helping me get through the winter blues with flying colors!

  15. A truly wonderful and informative video (in the great tradition of GCN videos). Love the Brits and their intellectual sense of humour. I’m Canadian, my Dad Welsh. Not sure that matters, but it’s my perspective and partly why I enjoy GCN (as a newcomer at 55 to the sport) so much. And pretty much spot on, sports activities help give a sense of goal, purpose and social fit.

  16. I just had a thought, I wonder if anyone has done these types of studies in say the Netherlands, where a great deal of the population bike regularly. Would be interesting to see if there is any correlative improvement in general mental health conditions.

  17. Great film, thanks GCN. For many (many) years my wife has understood that if I don't go biking I get grumpy. I work/life denies me riding there is a breaking point where I am sent out for a ride. It is the same for me where there is the sustained hard effort, where you hear blood pumping, that gets you to a state of meditation where all the other stresses in your life are forgotten. Sure, the issues haven't gone away but you realise they don't as much as 'that climb' and you can think about them logically again.

  18. About 15 years ago I ended up with pretty severe depression due to a drug side effect and saw a psychiatrist for a bit. He told me that nothing would be better for me than exercise. I call riding my endorphin injection. At age 71 I'm not fast, and I'm no great climber, but 25-40 miles on a bike are my true Zen moments.

    Since I'm not fast, I tend to use my bike to explore the world a bit. No big adventures, but just following a new route or bike path make me happy. Even riding around a neighborhood works for me.

  19. This video/study sure is very informative!! I was (still am) overloaded with work and also had bad luck with the flu bug. Slowly but surely my bike time, and all physical activity for that matter, waned to the point of non-existence….. Ok, perhaps that's a tad dramatic but it sure feels as such in hindsight. My colleagues noticed the gradual changes in my attitude (plus no longer seeing my cyclocross bike) and eventually, seriously asked if I was alright. Easily irritated, sleep deprived, wack schedule, being purposefully recluse. It took some time for me to notice the mask I had adopted. Wave upon wave of pain and stress burst out. So busy taking care of others that I forgot to take care of myself. I've learnt to make "me" time (no matter how small the amount) a requirement. I recall finally taking out my bike, cleaning it and charging the lights, surprisingly therapeutic. Jumping back on was another level of stress and anger released. Felt weak as hell at first but it was incredibly satisfying to be able to push out/release my negative energy. To cleanse myself, basically. Sorry for blabbing but it feels good to share. There's always someone you can talk to. It's true, the usually line thrown about: It's one of the hardest things for a person to do, to be able to make themselves truly vulnerable. Thanks Si! Thanks GCN!

  20. @GCN and Simon: This is next level work! Very impressive network TV-level stuff IMO. An important, well researched topic handled with the right tone and pro presentation. I think this video has the potential to actually change lives and that's something to be very proud of. Cheers guys!

  21. I always say, "cycling is my therapy". Nothing beats a 4 hour ride through farm land and the woods to help clear the mind.

  22. exactly this is the reason, why i dont "pedal" to my wort place. I race. I always try to beat my PB an that is such a motivating thing and if i beat my PB i´m happy all work day long 🙂

  23. One of the trickiest parts of the balance between stress and exercise is that we convince ourselves we are "too busy" to get out. I've made that excuse to myself many times. However, even going out for a quick 30 minute spin VASTLY improves my mood every time. Thanks for the reminder!!

  24. I went riding today in Calgary. It was minus 15C when I hit the road. I had on layer upon layer of clothing, winter cycling shoes, a balaclava and it was damn chilly. The roads were snowy and icy. Riding made it feel 10C colder with the windchill… It also made me feel great!!! Sure cycling is good for your mental health… on a freezing cold day like today it also shows that I’m mental.

  25. Again, great job and a great way of differentiating GCN from other similar channels. I will be a happy viewer if this is the kind of videos you want to make.

  26. For me mindfulness is the pain and suffering on the bike, after that all your stress/mental worries dissolve. I know as I attempted suicide a number of years ago and returning to the bike was and is my life line!!! Great video GCN this has probably helped many people!!

  27. Now I can show my wife why I love to cycle so much. Watch out GCN, Simon is going to be voicing BBC Science documentaries soon.

  28. What I find so great is that we’re getting mental health into conversation, great vid guys, personally I have suffered depression and came close to taking my own life, it’s so important to remember that life can change so fast, cycling help me beat depression Along with many other things. I’m working through anxiety now, keep talking about it and supporting each other 👍🏻

  29. Well done. I am a scientist and I was pleased that correlation versus causation was discussed. Good to see these new directions being explored.

  30. Large amounts of stress tend to come from work. Is there a correlation between those who's work is 'physical' as opposed to sitting behind a desk?

  31. Fitness, including cycling, has helped me stay sober. It provides that sense of fulfillment that addicts are always chasing. And it does this through delayed gratification, rather than instant. Which is a very important behavior to learn.

  32. I think every cyclist out there identifies with Si when he said when your riding along within your limits you still have thoughts running through your brain, but as soon as he pushes himself he enters that zone !! That zone is a amazing place I find it so addictive ! Great vid GCN …. I only wish my zone was 425watts !

  33. I understand the "happiness" increase due to exercise activity in isolation but what the university study misses is to me a big part of the happiness of riding and that is the sheer elation of riding with the wind in your face, the visual pleasure of riding over nice countryside or beautiful views, and the elation one feels when descending at speed. Surely this is has a significant impact on how good you feel during riding that is not taken into account when riding in a computer filled room with a sci fi hat on your head? Given this is probably hard to measure.

  34. Great video and I'm sure many can relate to it. Cycling certainly helps me with my baggage and I'm sure without it I could start going backwards. Well done GCN

  35. Top quality info-video! GCN’s brought invaluable spotlight on evidence that would otherwise be limited to the readership of scientific journals (and a few nerdy cyclists). Finally, evidence to make-sense of the dopaminergic/ meditative benefits of riding (many of us are familiar with). 😊👍🏻🚴🏻‍♀️

  36. Cycling used to be my go-to hobby for stress and anxiety relief, but what I ended up doing was increasing the stuff that made me stressed and then offset it with more cycling. This worked for about 2 years until I had some significant physical health issues due to over-doing it lol. Although I agree with the concept that exercise is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you also need to manage the cause of the stress at the same time. Otherwise, using exercise to offset the stress is a bit like painting over a damp stain, its just going to come through again.

  37. "yes, we are all different!" "I'm not". Excellent program (if I can call a YouTube video a program?) and highlights amongst other things Si's perspicacity as an interviewer in a scientific realm. Alas, we still don't have a good understanding of how the brain, or rather the mind, functions, even with a "novelty" hat and a couple of top university departments. Still, more grist for future mills!

  38. Can't agree more cycling definitely relaxes me when i have a hard day in the office or working on an issue that doesn't seem to have any solution i stop get on my trainer cycle an hour or so shower go back to work and all works out

  39. I have suffered from Burn out and deprresion, those times are 12 years behind me. It where hard an difficulat times, but I got out of it with some good life lessons. At first therapy and medication got me to the point where I could redirect my life, change jobs, leave a bad relationship, then in more stable times I got on without medication. As anyone you have to battle your demons but I managed. I could say I was moderatly happy. 3 years ago I started to train, and got into triathlon, since then coping with stress has gotten much easyer. It's stille there, don't be fooled, but mindfullness is indeed at 110 RPM on a static bike … or at 4:50 min/km running, … it really helps. That being said, I would have never been able to get into this sport and shape without the therapy and treatement I had years ago. Exercise is a great help I think, but it's not a treatement. And of course, when you get stronger you feel so much more confident, and for people with depression, low self esteem, and anxiety, like me, that's a great bonus.

  40. Speaking for myself as a 65 year old male that grew up playing competitive sports such as hockey and american football. i found myself dealing with depression and anxiety after having to give these activities up not even realizing they were probably keeping me mentally healthy. In my fifties I started weight training and cycling and it seems to have helped keeping me on a mentally even keel so much so that I've used my indoor stationary cycle to stop the beginning of a panic attack dead in its tracks. So yes I would say exercise in any form makes a huge difference in your mental and physical heath .

  41. I've been blown away with how much effort is being taken in preparing such amazing content by GCN team.
    It's just amazing and mind boggling to see how much something I did to lose some weight has had substantially more effect on me.
    Great content guys.

  42. As a person who suffers from depression and anxiety cycling is literally the main thing that pulls me out of the seriousness of the feelings. I can literally just commute and I have a smile on my face. Cycling is the only thing that brings us back to the initial achievements of being a child I believe. Cheers GCN

  43. My memory is noticeably better after starting to ride the last few years a lot. 60 YO. 10K miles last year. I now remember even store clerk names after noticing a decrease in memory in my 50s.

  44. Thank you super much for these kind of videos! Nice work! GCN is getting better and better! Please keep the good work and passion:)

  45. This is a fabulous video, along with the one on cardiovascular health. As a lifelong cyclist, I can recognise the differences in my mental state when I've not been able to get out on the road or trail. The more we understand the impact of activity on our wellbeing, I think that we are recognising the real negative impact of our being displaced from our natural environment. Cycling appears to improve our demeanor at an individual and possibly societal level. Keep up the good work.

  46. Cycling helps, excercise helps… talking helps too. Just a quick example this video has 510 comments (between 10.02.19 when it was published and today, 10.05.19). Another GCN video…What's The Best Bag For Commuting By Bike? Saddle Bag Vs. Panniers Vs. Backpack (between 18.02.19 and today, 10.05.19) has 682 comments!! Keep making great videos guys, Keep talking and most of … keep cycling!!

  47. brains evolved for motor/limps controls for reproduction success. Cognition is just a byproduct. So exercise is linked to better mental health.

  48. It never ceases to amaze me the amount and depth of information GCN provides. And, as an IT administrator, I love data and GCN certainly satisfies my need!

  49. Hi GCN and a big Hi to Si ! A great piece of work away from the usual indeed. Q: can a private person go to these labs and have tests run on them (for a fee) ? Thank you

  50. It helps me without doubt, but too much, interestingly enough causes the reverse but I think that may be to do with excess fatigue/exhaustion – being tired is psychologically damaging. Before I smashed my foot, I used to run for this reason – it made me feel better. Cycling does, but not in the same way which is odd as the argument is that exercise creates a mental benefit. Balance of experiences aside, the immediate benefits are bio-chemical (endorphins, adrenaline, etc.) but the secondary benefits are the successes cycling can bring ANYONE – losing weight and a better body image (internally and externally – how you think you look and how you actually look and how you feel about others viewing you). Cycling gives you time to focus, to experience living in the moment and a reason to be outside. Also, another success is that saying "I rode 20 miles" for a beginner cyclist is HUGE when you think about how far 20 miles actually is and then going to 40, 60, 80 and the big 100 is phenomenal with the looks from non-cyclists when you say it, speaking volumes. I'm autistic (Aspergers and a few other things) so I see things differently from NTs but the bio-chem side is just as valid and makes the cycling experience transparent for all humans – I did an MSc in structural molecular biology to understand this better. Thanks GCN, really lads, you're great and make all of this so accessible. Don't stop.

  51. You might want to include what the rider sees in the environment while they ride that might get some stress read out. Do a ride with varying City traffic conditions and some scenic tranquil rides

  52. I have mental health issues that I have learned to live with and on those rough days I've found that simply getting on me bike and taking a ride definitely helps me. Thanks for touching on this issue and a super big thumbs up to Si and Chris!!! GREAT VIDEO GUYS KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AND THANK YOU!!!!!! CHEERS

  53. I really enjoyed this and incredibly important to share.

    Currently, depression is huge killer around the world and can disrupt every area of life.

    Cycling since I could walk has allowed me to connect with all the comments below.
    Meditation also brings about similar mental clarity and alertness too and has changed my relationship with thought. So the same bothering thoughts may never go away but my personal attachment/relationship shifts and therefore the thoughts loose their power.

    Check out their website if you have time

    Thank you GCM

  54. Outstanding comment, well presented. Keep up the great work. I am a fan of your channel and have learned alot. I am a cyclist and enjoy your sense of humor. The video on cycling on men's private areas was quite informative and a bit shocking but well done nevertheless. 🙂

  55. Great video GCN I am a cyclist but as well have mental health issues when I get out on the bike it helps with blocking out my problems and get a sense of freedom I also ride with a club relaxed club and it gets me out away from my 4 walls so to speak of my flat with a big sence of achievement and making me fill so much better in myself 100% afterwards coming back from a ride

  56. What a great video! I'm pretty young (24), but I've been suffering from several mental illnesses all my life (severe depression, anxiety and phobic disorders, PTSD, borderline personality disorder) and I tried to kill myself twice because of all the amount of pain I was feeling these last three years. I know I'll have to be on two or three different meds all my life because of how ill I am. But before seeing a psychiatrist for the first time three years ago, and then a psychiatrist nurse and a psychologist, the only thing that kept me alive was cycling. I got my first road bike in 2014 and I quickly realised how much it was good for me : I became part of my city's cycling club and it made me interact more with people, and cycling hard was also for me a way of thinking less about my problems and my health issues. Sadly at one point it didn't become enough and I really needed medical attention and help, and I had to stay a lot at the hospital between 2016 and 2019, and I found it really hard to become a cyclist again mostly because a lot of terrible things happened to me and I wasn't on the right meds until recently. But now I'm feeling a little better, I even started cycling again a few days ago, and it already helps me again! I hope and wish to become a psychiatrist one day, and if I ever become one, I'll definitely talk about the importance of exercising to my patients!

  57. I really love GCNs health related videos! Being well spoken and friendly and seeming genuinely interested, Si's the perfect presenter for them.

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