This week is National Mental Health Awareness Week, and a wide range of news articles featuring stories, recent statistics and research have been published to help improve our understanding of the mental health issues that affect us all. It is estimated that one in four people in the United Kingdom will experience mental health difficulties. Often these experiences go unnoticed and untreated. For many people dealing with mental health problems, it can be a lonely and confusing experience.
ubu has worked tirelessly with vulnerable people and national charities to smash the stigma surrounding those living with mental health problems. The past few years has seen attitudes change, but it is a gradual process. Finding help to improve and heal mental health can also be difficult. While most people can get help from their GP’s with medication, some find that they can also benefit from other methods of treatment. Mental Health Awareness Week aims to bring attention to some of the alternatives, many of which people can access independently.
Current research shows that regular, moderate exercise can have a very beneficial effect of our mental health. Reading University is conducting a study on the benefits of cycling to the mental and emotional health of people over 65. It is one of several studies that point towards recognising that cycling can provide an excellent low impact exercise. It not only improves physical fitness but has the added benefit of improving mental wellbeing too, whatever your age.
But why wait until retirement? ubu has been supporting cycling events with the people we serve as part of an initiative to encourage opportunities for better health and fitness through exercise. This June, 100 of the people we serve are taking part in a cycling challenge which aims to cover the same distance as the Tour de Yorkshire. They will be making their attempt using a variety of cycles, some adapted for riders with disabilities so that everyone has a chance to enjoy the benefits of cycling.
A report from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends cycling as one of the easiest ways to exercise and enjoy its many benefits. The report recommends cycling as a way to improve cardiovascular fitness and to lower the risk of heart diseases. Because cycling is a good form of aerobic exercise it can also be a great way to burn calories and lose weight. Cycling is much easier on joints than high impact exercise like running, it also helps to keep your muscles in tone and strong. But perhaps one of the most interesting benefits of this kind of exercise is its effect on feelings of wellbeing, reducing stress, depression and other mental health problems.