Physical and mental well-being are a key part of healthy happy living. Here's how ultra endurance cycling and running can promote your physical and mental wellness:

Physical Health

Endurance training keeps your heart healthy. Depending on the training you are doing you can:

  • Reduce  your resting heart rate
  • Reduce your Heart Rate Variability
  • Maintain a high maximum heart rate

These key fitness markers are also signs of good general physical health.

In addition to heart health taking regular exercise also helps us:

  • Maintain muscle mass
  • Maintain flexibility
  • Maintain bone density (especially if it is weight bearing like running)
  • Keep blood pressure low
  • Keep us at a healthy weight

Mental Health

Movement is good for your mental health; some health services are now prescribing exercise for patients presenting with signs of low mood and depression. Exercising particularly at an endurance level (easy chatty pace) increases hormones that promote happiness (endorphins) and decreases stress hormones (cortisol); this can restore a healthy hormone balance in your brain making you feel better.

In his book 'The Body Keeps the Score' Bassel van der Kolk describes how the gentle movement of yoga can help victims of trauma on their road to recovery. The act of doing things in the body, with the rhythm of the body somehow seems to restore our faith in it and our relationship with it.

Spending time outdoors in fresh air, especially in green open spaces is also good for your mood. Many of us know this intuitively (it's no accident that gardening boomed as a hobby during covid when our opportunity to move to green spaces was restricted). 

Community

We are social beings to one degree or another (some more so than others). Whilst in endurance sports we do a lot of training on our own, we can also be part of a community. We have opportunities to take part in communal events, join clubs and find other like minded people to chat to about our passion.

Being part of a community is particularly important as we age and we retire where the 'work' community is lost. Children grow up and start their own lives, leaving the house empty with less opportunities to be part of the local parenting community. This can be a time when people face feelings of low mood and lack of purpose. Being part of a community outside of work and family can provide a much needed social outlet.

There is good evidence that being at the side of another human being engaging in the same activity promotes closeness and disclosure (in another life, driving clients to meetings was a great time to promote 'a good chat'). When we cycle or run side by side we are promoting a situation in which we can promote deeper connections with people.

Goals and Purpose

Goals and purpose give us a reason to get up, to maintain certain routines, to keep moving forward in some way. Ultra endurance sports can offer these goals in a variety of ways. You may have the goal of completing a particular event/race, or of completing a certain distance, or even just completing certain routes that inspire you.

Having a purpose keeps our brains active, enables us to maintain and learn life skills around dealing with problems, meeting objectives and learning from mistakes. These are skills which make us better at life as well as at our sport.

A Sense of Achievement

Tony Ward in his Good Lives Model suggested that among the key 'goods' that we need to lead a balanced life is 'excellence in work and play.' It's good for us not only to have things to work towards but to achieve those things. If we can build this as a strength in our lives we can lead a happier, more balanced life overall.

Taking part in physical activities with goals that we can achieve is a good way to strengthen this aspect of our lives and give us some self-confidence.

Work-Life Balance

A key to good work-life balance is having interests outside work that are important enough for you to make sure you keep things in balance. Having interests and hobbies outside work is key to maintaining a good life; it provides robustness when work is less stable as there are other areas in your life which can remain stable.

Endurance sport can be a good way of keeping your work life balance in check - if you want to be able to train you need to leave work in time to do so; you also need to have the energy to put in to your training.

Longevity

Many of us seem to have a deep need to prolong life; it seems almost instinctive. Whilst we can't choose how long we will live, we can offset things we know will shorten it including:

  • Stress
  • Loss of bone density
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Increased fatty deposits
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure

If we can be active and happy as we age that is an added bonus both for us and for a health service groaning under the stress of an aging population.

Why not book a free 20 minute consultation with no commitment to see how we can help you?


 

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Clare Pearson
Post by Clare Pearson
June 27, 2024
A professional endurance coach since 2018, Clare Pearson has worked with endurance cyclists and runners to help them achieve their goals. Clare specialises in endurance events, she loves to work with people to help them succeed at their own goals; whether that's a personal best, a completion, a podium or better emotional health. Clare will work with you to design a plan that fits in with your day to day life and helps you get the most out of each session.

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