Ride your bike to beat the blues

Beat the most depressing day of the year with a bicycle ride. Monday 24th January has been labelled ‘Blue Monday’ because of post-Christmas debts, settling back to work after the festive break, bad weather, broken New Year’s resolutions, and rising fuel costs.

That last one can be blown out of the water by cycling instead of driving. ‘Blue Monday’ might be unscientific tosh* but anything that makes us stop and think about how to enrich our lives has got to be a good thing. And cycling can improve your health and well-being in many ways.

‘Blue Monday’ was devised in 2006 as PR tool to help sell feel-better products and overseas travel. A supposedly mathematical formula to arrive at the unhappiest day of the year was created by motivation maven Dr Cliff Arnall, formerly a post graduate tutor at the Medical and Dental School of Cardiff University.

Apparently, the best way to get over the January blues is to have some fun, start a new hobby or do something you have been putting off for some time. Cycling fits the bill, and is a practical pleasure that can last a lifetime.

According to beatbluemonday.org.uk, a website created to promote the Mental Health Foundation, there are a number of things to help you beat the blues. Here’s a few of them, and how cycling can help.

“Try something new”
Not been cycling for a while, or ever? Here’s an article on why taking up cycling could be right up your street.

“Get physical”
Cycling is excellent exercise and a fat-buster to boot. Eat a cream cake with no guilt: ride away the sin.

“Contact a friend or relative”
Go on a bike ride with your kids or hook up with some other family members or friends. Cycling can be a very sociable activity. Cycling is mobility and recreation rolled into one. Children’s bikes have never been better, and getting out there and riding is a super way to keep fit, have fun and bond.

“Take a break”
Get yourself off on a cycle holiday. Or, closer to home, explore somewhere new by riding there. Not sure how to find a cycle-friendly route to your chosen destination? Use an online journey planner such as the one from Cyclestreets.net. Got a smartphone? Take the Cyclestreets journey planner with you in your pocket: there’s a Bike Hub journey planner app for iPhones and Android handsets.

“Help the planet”
Cycling is good for you, good for your finances (even the most expensive bicycle is cheap compared to buying and running a car, and there’s no duty escalator on cornflakes), and good for the environment, too.

And it’s not just on the emissions front that bicycles win hands down. Bicycles are also quiet, clean, and extremely space efficient. Electric cars are said to be good for the planet too but a coal-powered car still takes up a lot of room to park and move around.

“Pamper yourself”
Get a facial for free by taking off your front mudguards. If you’re not in Morocco at the time and so don’t have access to rhassoul-covered trails and don’t fancy schlepping to Israel for some Dead Sea mineral riding, any mud will do. Let it dry and try not to smile (which is tough, because riding through muddy puddles like a kid again is a lot of fun).

Or how about pampering your bicycle instead? Splash out for a spa treatment for your loved one: your local bike shop will have a wide range of rejuvenation options, from loving application of lube to the full works, an all-over spritz to make your bicycle sparkle and purr.

“Plan something new”
Looking forward to something new or different can be uplifting and refreshing. If you haven’t been on a bike for donkeys’ years you’ll get a real buzz out of getting back in the saddle.

“Share your thoughts”
A problem shared is a problem halved. Want to start cycling but not sure what bike to get or who to ride with? Ask questions on the new BikeHub forum. It’s beginner-friendly.

* “These equations are scientifically uninformative…corrosive, meaningless, empty…[and they are] bogus nonsense that serve only to…undermine science,” said ‘Bad Science’ author Ben Goldacre in 2006.

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