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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Memphis Police Department sees many benefits of the bike patrol program for its officers and the community

Memphis Police Department sees many benefits of the bike patrol program for its officers and the community
By:  Michael Lander

MPD officers can frequently be seen patrolling downtown areas
on bicycle in Memphis and, in this case, are being accompanied
by public safety officers.

Riding a bicycle can be a very healthy activity, and it can be great recreational fun for those who do it, but for some in the Memphis Police Department it is actually a part of their job.

Even though bike patrols with law enforcement officers date as far back as 100 years ago, according to Memphis Police Department (MPD) Public Information Officer, Sgt. Karen Rudolph, the program did not actually begin in our city until the mid-1990’s.

Today, there are currently 350 to 400 certified bicycle officers who are qualified to patrol Memphis City streets.

In the 20 or more years since its implementation, the program has appeared to have been well-received by the general public and those MPD officers who have participated in the program.  Officer Antwan Suttle is one of them.  He is also a Memphis City Police Cyclist Instructor.

“I enjoy the opportunity to do bike patrol,” Suttle said.  “Cycling is a very good method of cardiovascular activity that helps me to maintain my fitness goals…. and I get the opportunity to work out while being paid to do so,” he added.

MPD officers on bikes are a common sight at special events in
the city like the Cooper-Young Festival, which is usually held in
September of each year.

Other than the health benefits to him and his fellow police officers, Suttle views the bike patrol program as giving him an opportunity to engage people in the community in a positive and more direct way.

“Bike patrols put you up close and personal with the community.  Getting out of the patrol car and engaging citizens on a bike is an excellent public relations tool and it gives people in the community an added sense of security just knowing that we are there,” Settle said.

That is a sentiment that is echoed by MPD officer Kevin Barrett.

“Bike patrol is a great tool in community oriented policing.  There is no barrier between police and citizens.  It allows for more personal interactions with the community that you cannot get in a patrol car,” Barrett said.

This lack of a barrier seems to be a big plus for the officers and the people in the community, as well, and Rudolph said that officers frequently receive favorable feedback from residents who see the bike patrols in their communities.  They express their appreciation to them for being there.

Even though some people might not notice them, there are
often bike patrol officers on Memphis City streets.  Several
bike patrol officers were among those in attendance at the
bike gate grand opening ceremony at Overton Park on
April 19, 2014.

For most precincts in the city, Rudolph said that the bike patrol is an additional duty for them, but that some officers who work in areas such as downtown do patrol on a very consistent basis.  They also work all special events in the city and in many midtown areas, among others, she said.

One of the added benefits that Settle sees with the bike patrol program is that it isn’t quite as noticeable and attention-getting as a police squad car or on a motorcycle can often be.

“The element of stealth and surprise that a bike officer is able to achieve is a great added feature,” Settle said.  “I can recall several situations where my partners and I have arrested individuals for attempting to break into vehicles and thefts from residences.  The suspects had no clue that we were there until it was too late for them to get away,” he said.

In order for a police officer to be on bike patrol, Rudolph indicated that there are certain requirements that they must first meet beforehand.

Bike patrol officers regularly patrol downtown and they can be
seen throughout the year and are trained and able to ride at
night.

“An officer must be off probation and they must complete a rigorous mandatory 40-hour police cyclist course with endurance rides up to 36 miles,” Rudolph said.  “These officers are tested on bike handling skills, drills, ascending and descending stairs, firearms training, nutrition, cycling at night, just to name a few,” she said.

The bikes that are currently in service and used by the MPD bike patrols are Raleigh, Trek, and Specialized.  The Specialized Rockhopper 29-inch wheel mountain bikes are the newest ones in their fleet and the police department is looking for grant opportunities to supplement and replace their older and more outdated bicycles.  All of the bikes that the department’s bike patrol uses are maintained by MPD officers.

Because of the ongoing and continuing need for police officers and for people in the community to work, cooperate, and to support one another, the police departments bicycle program may be one of the better ways to help make that happen.

This program offers a unique way for Memphis’ finest to be able to meet and to interact in a more direct and approachable way with those in the Memphis community while continuing to serve and protect it.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

2015 St. Jude Ride is expected to be bigger and better than ever

2015 St. Jude Ride is expected to be bigger and better than ever
By:  Michael Lander



The St. Jude team relay bike ride begins on Friday evening at
6:00 p.m. and runs for 24 hours until Saturday evening at 6:00. 
This year the ride will be on Oct. 23-Oct. 24, 2015.  Only
one cyclist for each team is on the route at any given time,
which is approximately a 3-mile loop on Riverside Drive.

Once a year hundreds of them gather along the
Mississippi River in Memphis with their bicycles, and for 24 hours they ride on relay teams for the children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

These cyclists are drawn together for St. Jude Ride, a 24-hour team relay bike ride, which will take place this year along a portion of
Riverside Drive on Friday to Saturday evening, Oct. 23 – 24.

Even though the cyclists who participate in this event are of different ages, skills, and abilities, they all share one thing in common and that is their support of St. Jude and its lifesaving work on behalf of the children who receive treatment there. 

Lee Bobo is the event director for the St. Jude team relay bike ride for the second year.

Everyone who signs up for the St. Jude ride is on a team and “we have solo teams, duo teams, and teams of up to 12 people,” Lee Bobo said.



The St. Jude bike ride had 305 cyclists in 2014 and the event
director, Lee Bobo, is hoping to have at least 500 for the
upcoming ride in October this year.

There are no limits on how teams are formed except that they are limited to a maximum number of 12 people.  They can be made up friends, families, co-workers, members of various clubs or other organizations, or a combination of all these and more. 

The upcoming 2015 team relay bike ride will be the fourth of its kind hosted by St. Jude, and it's something that Bobo is very much looking forward to and is excited about.  More than anything, she finds the whole experience of this event as something that is extremely fun and rewarding.

“The most rewarding part for me is seeing so many groups of people coming together for this one mission,” Bobo said.

That mission for Bobo is an enormous undertaking, but the payoff is huge since the money that is raised goes toward research and treatment.  It can offer hope for children and their families when they are confronted by one of the most difficult and challenging circumstances that they could ever face.



The St. Jude bike ride has cyclists with vastly different skills
and abilities and those who come to watch will have the
chance to see cyclists on everything from unicycles, hybrids,
road bikes, and even those bikes specifically made for racing.

"St. Jude Ride is a great way for cycling enthusiasts to not only push themselves to the next level, but do so while supporting a great cause," Chris Boysen said.  Boysen is the Sr. Vice President of ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and a regular participant in the St. Jude Ride.

"Fundraising events like this are critically important because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from individual contributions.  Because of events like the St. Jude Ride, the Memphis Walk/Run for Childhood Cancer in September, and the St. Jude Marathon in December, we are able to ensure that families never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing, or food.  The only thing families should worry about during this time is helping their child live," Boysen said.

The St. Jude Ride started in 2010 by
Ann Leatherman who wanted to do it in appreciation of St. Jude and in honor of her daughter, Eliza.  Eliza was a St. Jude patient who successfully won her battle against a life-threatening disease.

The first year, it was a century ride that was called the ‘
St. Jude Give Thanks, Ride’ and “the first committee was made up of mothers, aunts, and relatives of patients who wanted to give back to St. Jude,” Bobo said.

“The event was so successful that it became an annual event.  The next year, (in 2011), St. Jude decided to change it to the 24-hour model to make it a unique event especially for Memphis,” she added.

Since they made that change, the event has grown from 186 cyclists in its first year in 2011, to 280 cyclists in 2012, to 305 in 2014, and Bobo said that the goal now is to have at least 500 participants in 2015.



For some, the St. Jude ride is a big family event and, while small children
under 12 years of age are not riding in the event themselves, some of
them do have their own bikes with them like their parents.
(Photo:  Courtesy of Lee Bobo)

Click on this link to register for the 2015 event: 
http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ride_home

This year, Bobo and her 10-person committee is planning to create a more festival-type atmosphere, which she hopes will attract more spectators and enable them to enjoy the event, along with the cyclists.  In order to do this, they are plan to set up risers where spectators can cheer on the riders throughout the day and night.  They will also be able to purchase a wrist band that will allow them to eat at the hospitality tent.

With the exception of these changes, and moving the event from late September to late October, Bobo said that cyclists will find much of what they have known will remain the same for this upcoming ride in the fall.

The ride will remain a team relay event, which means that only one person on a team can ride at any given time over the 24 hours that it takes place.  Team members can decide for themselves when they want to ride and they can switch off as they wish.
 

Many of the participants in the St. Jude ride pitch tents and spend
the night in one of the best locations in all of Memphis - in Tom
Lee Park.  (Photo:  Courtesy of Lee Bobo)
 
As in previous rides, cyclists will be required to wear a helmet and they must have a headlight and tail light on their bicycles, which must be turned on from dusk until dawn.

When they aren’t riding, cyclists can hang out and eat with their friends and/or family, cam out in
Tom Lee Park, and listen to live musical performances late Friday night and throughout most of the day on Saturday. 

After the ride, teams will be recognized and will receive awards for the most money raised as well as those on the solo, two-person, and larger teams who complete the most number of laps on the 3-mile loop of Riverside Drive. Tracking is done with timing chips that each cyclist must have on them.

Long before cyclists ever show up for the ride, Bobo and many others behind the scenes spend countless hours planning and preparing for an event of this magnitude.  These efforts begin immediately after the current year’s event is over.
 

When cyclists are not out riding for their respective teams, many
of them find some time to talk, eat, rest, and some even have a
little time to play with the kids.  (Photo:  Courtesy of Lee Bobo)
 
“It takes a full year to plan, execute, promote, and work with all of our participants who sign up,” Bobo said.    

“I have a wonderful committee of 10 people…. and we have about 40 volunteers who come out and help from setting up, taking down, and everything in between.  It is a huge production to put together a 24 hour event like this and we appreciate all the help we can get to make it happen,” she added.

For those who might be interested in volunteering, they can contact Lee Bobo at
Lee.Bobo@stjude.org and she will send them the sign up information.

The St. Jude Ride relies heavily on the help of its volunteers, and the hospital itself relies on the generosity of those who are willing to give.  Because of them, St. Jude is able to continue to provide the care and treatment to critically ill children, which it is able to provide at no cost to their families.



After riding, some cyclists find nothing more relaxing than just
sitting along the river bank and looking out on the Mississippi
River, which can be especially nice with the sun setting on
Friday evening.  (Photo:  Courtesy of Lee Bobo)

The hospital was
founded in 1962 by Danny Thomas and it was his vision that no child will ever be denied treatment at St. Jude based on race, religion, or a family’s inability to pay.

"I think it is amazing that our founder, Danny Thomas, had the foresight to create a place where no child is denied treatment....  particularly during the 1960's - the height of a tumultuous time in Memphis," Boysen said.


As for Thomas' vision, the only way that it can become a reality is through its many fundraising efforts and the 24-hour relay bike ride is one of the those ways.  Last year’s ride raised $140,000.

For many, like Boysen, it is an honor for them to work at ALSAC, which is the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude.

"I have been here 20 years and it is so rewarding for me to be able to play a small part in this beautiful mission to help raise the necessary funds to operate the hospital and save the lives of thousands of children battling cancer," Boysen said.

As for the ride, there may be no better way to have fun with friends, family, and fellow cyclists for up to 24 hours while helping the children of St. Jude and their families. 

With the changes that have been made, it should be a much bigger and better event for the cyclists and spectators alike this year.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cyclists can find reasons when and why to listen to music while riding

Cyclists can find reasons when to listen to music while riding
By:  Michael Lander

Music can make for an even more enjoyable experience
for some cyclists, especially those who are out on a bike
ride by themselves.

If you look around, it’s almost impossible not to notice it.

It seems like just about everywhere you go you see people with earplugs, earbuds, or headsets on, who appear to have tuned out the rest of the world and who’ve retreated into their own world of music.

In a way, it almost seems like we now live in a time that may put a new twist on what Timothy Leary was talking about when he said we should turn on, tune in, and drop out.

With so many of us plugged into our own music these days, it should really come as little surprise to anyone that there'd be cyclists who'd want to do the very same thing as everyone else.

As unsafe and dangerous as some people might think that it is for cyclists to ride and to listen to their music, it may very well be that cyclists have the support of some researchers and the law to back them up as to why they can and should be able to do it.

Contrary to what many people might think, with the exception of a handful of states around the country, it is completely legal for a cyclist to have a set of earplugs or earbuds in, or to have a headset on while they are riding their bike.  Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas are among the states that allow it.

Cyclists are just one of many, that includes runners and walkers,
who like to be outside, getting some exercise, and who want to
do all that while listening to the music that they love.
 
This is not to say that just because you legally can do something, that it necessarily means that you should.  The law can’t always protect us from everything, including ourselves, nor can it do that when we demonstrate any lack of common sense or good judgment on our part.

In all fairness to cyclists, though, it must be said that they aren’t the only ones around the streets listening to music.  It is not uncommon, for instance, to see people walking or running who are often doing the very same thing themselves, not to mention those who are in cars, trucks, and on motorcycles. 

In some cases, the only difference between the cyclist and the motorist is that the motorist may also be talking on a cell phone and/or jamming to some music without necessarily having something stuck in one or both of their ears as they are driving down the road.

Currently, there seems to be very little evidence that definitively proves that listening to music while cycling actually increases the risk of harming oneself any more than it would be for those who are walking or running on or near the road.  The real danger, though, may come from certain situations or settings, when a cyclist really needs to be able to hear what is happening around them. 

It is an especially bad idea to wear earplugs, earbuds or headsets whenever you are riding with other cyclists on a group bike ride or when you are on an extremely congested and busy city street.

Most cyclists tend to avoid using earplugs, earbuds, or headsets while on
group rides since it can make it difficult to hear other cyclists as they try
to communicate and worn one another of actions that they may be taking
or potential hazards that they may come up to.

When riding with other cyclists, it’s always very important to be able to hear what they are saying and what hazards that they might be trying to warn you about.  It is for this reason that cycling event organizers routinely discourage the use of anything that might prevent you from hearing other cyclists who may be around you. 

Cyclists, or anyone else for that matter, should never listen to their music at a level that prevents them from hearing what is happening around them. This is as important on the bike and pedestrian trails as it is on the city streets.

Permanent hearing loss can occur at a sustained level of 85 decibels and cyclists can really get into trouble whenever they attempt to drown out the noise around them by turning up the music even louder.  Repeatedly doing this can result in permanent hearing loss. 

Instead of risking the chance of hearing loss, or being oblivious to the sounds around them, cyclists do have a few alternative solutions that are well-worth considering. 

One of the first options you can try is to leave one earplug/earbud in and taking the other one out, (preferably the one in your left ear since it’s in the direction of the road), or you can try turning the music all the way up and putting the earplug or earbuds around your neck. 

You can also try installing portable speakers or you might want to look into a set of
headphones that are specially designed specifically for cyclists and their safety in mind. 

Even though some people might see some risks of listening to music
while riding on the city streets, cyclists need to be just as cautious
and careful, if not more, when they are on bike trails since there are
many runners, walkers, and other cyclists sharing the same small
area with one another.

Either way that you go, any one of these options should enable you to listen to your music while helping to minimize some of the risks that might come with trying to listen to your music while riding.

For those opposed to cyclists listening to any music at all, Josh Levin, in his article “
Not Right in the Head – Listen up, cyclists:  Riding with headphones is incredibly dumb,” offers some of his thoughts as to why he thinks that cyclists should not ride with anything at all in or over their ears.

Coming to the defense of cyclists who do want to listen to music while they’re riding is Sociologist, Dr. Katrina Jungnickel, from the University of London, and Dr. Rachel Aldred from the Planning and Transport School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Westminster. 

In their research, “Cycling sensory strategies:  How cyclists mediate their exposure to the urban environment,” they found that “in contrast to media representations of the ‘iPod zombie cyclist’ who (is) plugged into a mobile audio device, (who) lumbers insensitively and dangerously through the urban landscape,” that the cyclist actually uses the music as a way to comfortably adapt and cope with the environment around them. 

Jungnickel and Aldred concluded that their research found that “cyclists are just as consciously aware, if not more, of their sensory engagement as other transport users and they engage in sensory strategies that manage their exposure to it.”

As nice as it can be just to ride and listen to some of the sounds around you, or to be left to your own thoughts, music can make a ride so much more enjoyable when you are riding all alone. 

In spite of what people might think, there is little evidence to
suggest that, in most instances, there is a significant risk or
danger for cyclists who like to listen to their music verses
those who don't.

Music can be smoothing, inspiring and uplifting and it can help to motivate you on a long and difficult bike ride.  Sometimes, it can even help to take your mind off of just being tired or sore, to focus more on the cool rhythm and beat, lyrics, or the melody of the music and it can even
boost your overall well-being.

With the right music, coupled with the enjoyable experience of a bike ride, it can be a surefire way to increase your serotonin and dopamine levels, and when you combine this with the surging levels of endorphins that come from a strenuous physical activity like a bike ride, it can really make for a potent recipe or cocktail that can help you find your proverbial happy place.

For all the arguments raised against having music playing on a bike ride, there does seem to be equally compelling and legitimate reasons why, for the most part, it might not be such a terrible thing.

The bottom line is that each and every cyclist needs to know where they will be riding and whether or not they will be riding alone or with others before deciding if they should pull the earplugs, earbuds, headsets out and ride.

Monday, April 6, 2015

What cyclists can and should do when they encounter bad drivers

What cyclists can and should do when they encounter bad drivers
By:  Michael Lander

Because of bad drivers, the road can be dangerous, especially for
cyclists who have nothing to protect them except any defensive
actions that they can take to prevent a collision.

None of us who drive on our
Memphis city streets care to share the road with reckless, careless, hostile, angry, distracted, or impaired drivers, but sadly, there seems to be far too many of them, especially in big metropolitan cities like our own.

As much of an annoyance and a danger that bad drivers are to other motorists, they are an even bigger threat to cyclists who are even more vulnerable since they don’t have the added protection that comes from being inside an automobile.

In spite of all the efforts to make roads and vehicles safe for everyone, thousands of people die on the roads in this country each and every year. 

According to the
Center for Disease Control, (CDC), there are an average of 33,804 motor vehicle-related fatalities on U.S. roadways each year, which equates to about 10 deaths for every 100,000 people.

In 2013, the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recorded 32,719 deaths across the U.S. with 995 of them in Tennessee.  In Memphis, the Accident Data Center shows that there were 15 vehicular deaths from April 2014 to April 2015.

For cyclists, in 2012, the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that 726 cyclists were killed and an additional 49,000 injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.  This was a rise from 677 cyclists killed and 48,000 injured the year before.   

In the Memphis area, we have averaged 
the death of one cyclist each year since 2010.  There was one death in 2011, one in 2012, one in 2014, and two thus far in 2015.

Memphis area cyclists have experienced a relatively low number of
accidents and fatalities since 2010, but one is really too many and
so cyclists and motorists alike to need to do what they can to
ensure that the roads remain safe for everyone.

As the
City of Memphis puts down more bike lanes and trails, we can anticipate seeing more cyclists taking to the road and, with that, we can expect to see a greater potential for accidents.  This doesn’t necessarily need to happen, however, so long as cyclists and motorists are more careful on the roads that they share together.

Even though cyclists may not have anything to insulate and protect themselves from being struck as motor vehicle operators do, they can minimize some of the risks by remaining vigilant, being visible by wearing bright and reflective clothing, having lights on the front and back of their bikes, by always being predictable, and by always following the rules of the road. 
For more safety tips, click on this link.

Over a hundred years ago, the roads were filled with horses, pedestrians, and cyclists and, before the advent of the automobile; it was the
cyclists who fought to have paved roads. 

After the automobile came on to the scene, the roads were filled with vehicles, and everything else that came before them.  They all shared the road with one another, but the automobile eventually took over most roads and that is about all that we have seen on them since then.

Today, we are seeing a resurgence of the bicycle and so it may be a sign that we have come full circle and it’s now time for the motorists to learn to share the roads once again with those of us on bicycles.

Some drivers on the road today do not believe that cyclists have a right or need to be on the road, but that has a lot more to do with them not knowing or understanding that cyclists have every right to be on the roads as they do.

By law, motorists in Tennessee must give a minimum of 3-feet of
separation between them and the cyclist and they should
recognize the fact that the cyclist has every right to be on the
road as much as they do.

Every state in the country has laws on the books that permit cyclists on the roads and there is not a single state that prohibits them from riding except on interstate highways. 
Click here to read more about the laws in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

Even though cyclists have every right to be on the road, they do have some inherent risks that may come from motorists who are distracted or impaired.

If you do ever encounter a driver who appears to be impaired and is weaving and driving recklessly, call
911 and report it.  Depending upon the circumstances, you may also need to also call 911 if you come across a hostile driver and experience anything like road rage.  If you are able, try to diffuse the situation or try to get away so that you can avoid being hit or seriously injured.

Whenever cyclists experience an injury, a road rage incident, or some other encounter, such as being intentionally run off the road, from a hostile or impaired driver, you will want to immediately report the incident to
Memphis City Police.  Provide them with as much information as possible about the incident so that they can file a police report and press charges for you.   

When talking with police, be sure to tell them when and where the incident or accident occurred, the details surrounding it, a description of the driver, and the make, model, color, and the tag number of the vehicle involved.  You will also want to give them the names of any witnesses and cyclists who were with you when this took place.

Cyclists should report any incidents or accidents involving a
vehicle including any that they witness or experience for
themselves involving impaired, distracted, or hostile
motorists.

If you suffered any injuries and/or any damage to your bike from an encounter with an impaired, distracted, or hostile driver, you will want to contact a personal injury lawyer since you may be entitled to some amount of compensation from it if they are found and apprehended. 

If you talk with a lawyer, they will want to know what injuries you sustained and what damage that you specifically had to your bicycle.  They will also want to know the details of the incident, what actions that you took, and whether or not you have contacted the police and if you captured it on video. 

Having a video can be especially useful in helping make your case for you, particularly when it might come down to your word against someone else's. 

When looking for a lawyer, be sure that you find one who has experience in working cases that have involved cycling-related injuries or death and, for those,
Amy Benner Johnson may be one of the best attorneys in the State of Tennessee to contact.  She is located in Knoxville and is a cyclist herself who has worked many cases for cyclists and their families when a cyclist has either been injured or who has died as a result from incidents involving dogs, unsafe road conditions, or negligent and hostile drivers.

It may be difficult to always avoid coming across bad drivers, but knowing what you can and should do when you do encounter them could make all the difference in minimizing or eliminating the risks that they might pose to you.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Physical activities like cycling can improve health and may even help with depression

Physical activities like cycling can improve health and may even help with depression
By:  Michael Lander

 

Physical activities, such as cycling, may be one of the best ways to
improve health and well-being and, according to experts, it could
be an effective way to treat or to ward off the effects of
depression.


Can physical activities like cycling actually help in the fight against depression?  Some in the medical community appear to think so and there seems to be some pretty strong evidence that suggests that it just might be one way to help combat it.


For many years now, cycling advocates have touted the health benefits of cycling, but they have, for the most part, overlooked the positive effect that it can have on the mind.


Mallory Atkinson and Lynn Weigand, Ph.D, in a June 2008 review of literature, entitled, “The Mental Health Benefits of Walking and Bicycling,” cited a considerable amount of research that has demonstrated a clear and convincing correlation between physical activities, such as cycling, and the lessening of symptoms associated with depression.


One of the sources that Atkinson and Weigand referred to in their review was the research conducted by Catherine Ross, and Diane Hayes that appeared in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1988, entitled, "Exercise and psychologic well-being in the community."


Ross and Hayes came across multiple studies that revealed a definitive connection between physical activity or exercise and the alleviation of symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.


James Blumenthal and Michael Babyak further corroborated these findings in 1999 in their Archives of Internal Medicine article, “Efforts of exercise training on older patients with major depression.”  In their research, they found that an exercise training program is as effective as a standard antidepressant therapy in reducing depression among those who’ve been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder.


In an article, entitled “Your Brain on Bicycling,” by Selene Yeager, Blumenthal, who was a professor of behavioral medicine in the psychiatry and behavioral department at Duke University, was quoted as saying that "exercise works as well as psychotherapy and antidepressants in the treatment of depression, maybe better."


Christine Mattheis, in her article, “Your Brain on Cycling - Three ways your brain benefits from riding your bike,” wrote about research that has consistently shown that vigorous exercise is so effective at helping some patients to overcome anxiety and depression that they have been able to reduce or eliminate the use of medications such as Prozac and Zoloft.


The Mayo Clinic has further substantiated this medical phenomenon while offering an explanation for how and why it occurs.


In an article entitled, “Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms,” by the Mayo Clinic staff, exercising (like with cycling) can help to not only improve a wide array of health problems, but research, it says, has shown that it can have a psychological benefit that can help reduce anxiety, make you feel better, and it can improve your overall mood.


For many reasons, cycling can be good for both the body and mind
and being outdoors, and in the sunshine, has been found to have a
positive impact on a person's mood and their happiness.



Best of all, it seems that the side effects of exercise may be long-lasting and that it can keep anxiety and depression from coming back once you begin feeling better.


How exactly cycling, and other similar physical activities, can help with depression has a lot to do with the impact that it has on both the mind and body.  Whenever you vigorously ride your bike or exert yourself in a comparable way, neurotransmitters, endorphins, and endocannabinoids are released, which can act as an analgesic for pain while simultaneously amplifying a feeling of euphoria, which can leave you with a positive feeling and help ease depression.


Frequent exercise helps to further reinforce these chemical releases into the brain and, according to the Mayo Clinic staff, it can help someone to build confidence, to take their mind off their worries, it offers an opportunity for more social interaction, and a healthy way to cope with one’s problems.


While cycling, or any other form of exercise may not be a cure-all for depression in everyone, it does seem to offer a possible way to relieve some of the symptoms of depression, which of course, could be additionally treated with medication, if necessary.


Even though various types of exercise may yield a similarly positive effect for those who are clinically depressed, what makes cycling distinctively unique is that it takes you outside where you can enjoy the sunshine and take in some fresh air.


Research studies, like those recently conducted by the United Arab Emirates, has shown a strong link between positive moods and happiness with time spent outdoors in the sunlight.


One unequivocal advantage that cycling has over other outside physical activities, like walking or running, is that it often allows a person to see more and go further, in the same amount of time, than you might otherwise get on a walk or run.


It is also something that can be done alone or with friends on a group ride or at one of many cycling events that take place, at least in and around Memphis, throughout most of the year.


It would seem that physical activities, especially those like cycling, can improve, not only one’s health, but it seems to be able to help ease the effects of depression so it is not only good for the body, but it is equally good for the mind.