The Healing of Cycling

When you ask people what PTSD is, the answer usually includes, “That’s what veterans and First Responders suffer from.” While many of them do, that’s not the whole story. The range of PTSD is much more comprehensive. PTSD can occur from a narcissistic relationship, a violent attack, a severe accident or an abusive past.

There was virtually zero awareness of PTSD in the past, and the symptoms were recognized as something people had to “suck up.” Fortunately, today, more and more people know that the way to battle PTSD and trauma is by seeking professional help.

As for the cure, it involves psychotherapy, medication, and exposure treatment. The last-mentioned “exposure treatment” might not be known to everyone. It involves gradually exposing someone to the source of their trauma and anxiety. Traditional PTSD treatments are playing their part. But it turns out there’s also another way which may seem a little bit unconventional. Cycling! Individuals who have been advised to ride their bikes regularly have reported—cycling brings relief from negative thoughts and provides a mental break from anxiety.

Cycling provides the healing effect of a positive routine. It helps to take one’s mind away from compulsive thought patterns and give attention to new desires. Individuals often talk about gathering and establishing numerous encouraging thoughts they did not notice before. The speed generated from cycling and the bilateral movement helps remind trauma survivors how good it can feel to be alive.

Nonetheless, cycling does not help just with the “current” state of mind; according to researchers, cycling can also reduce long-term anxiety levels. The trick is to engage in habit-forming routine-based activities. Cycling often through treatment allows for exposure to past trauma, and therefore, can be used to treat the physiological symptoms of PTSD. Needing to catch your breath or experiencing an increased heart rate is no longer as intimidating to someone.

The encouraging conclusion is that trauma survivors have been acknowledging cycling as a positive method of recovery. PTSD warriors, like myself, are spreading the word, promoting awareness of both the severity of PTSD and the benefits of cycling. And organizations like the Vatic Foundation have been engaging in research and fundraising to help our community members get back on track.

Be unique, be you, and keep smiling.  

—Brian Nadon

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