A fun and healthy way to get girls involved in reproductive health
"The body stops moving because you decide to stop moving. Everybody's system works better when they ride."
-Lan Yin Tsai, 90-year-old female cyclist
Cycling supports women in girls and the following ways:
Alleviates the symptoms of other common female conditions
Women obviously differ from men in having to cope with the physical and psychological symptoms caused by having menstrual periods and going through pregnancy, childbirth and the menopause. Many of the unpleasant side effects of these can be helped by regular non-load bearing exercise such as cycling, which can often be fitted into a daily routine.
Improves mental health and wellbeing
But it’s not only physical health that cycling can improve. According to the Mental Health Foundation: “in England, women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem and are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders".
Riding, whether on or off-road, may not be able on its own to cure these conditions, but it is a life-enhancing activity. Cycling provides the chance to literally expand one’s horizons, to feel the wind in one’s hair, to breathe fresh air and to experience ‘mindfulness’ by looking at an inspiring view, rather than a computer or phone screen version of ‘reality’. For younger women especially, who nowadays are under pressure to feel good about themselves because of their looks rather than through doing anything active such as cycling, riding a bike is an easily accessible activity that can reinforce a sense of self-worth and pride in using their bodies to achieve something, rather than simply as a channel for the admiration of others.
It also offers the opportunity to enjoy some quality ‘me time’, away from domestic duties (which are still done largely by women), and can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression as the adrenalin and endorphins that cycling generates provide a natural high, at least in the short-term.
Improves social lives
Cycling can also be a social activity, which again is beneficial to women’s mental health. Hannah, an attendee at a Cycling UK-supported women’s cycling group in Manchester called Lady Pedal says: “As a result of participating, I have a supportive group of proactive female friends, something which I often lack in social circles.”
Builds self-esteem and confidence
However, those who DO enjoy the technical aspects of off-road riding report an improvement in other aspects of their lives as their self-esteem and confidence blossoms.
Benefits the environment
Riding a bike expands your eco-friendly footprint by keeping you off the city's congested streets. It also helps hold down noise pollution. Every time you take your bicycle instead of the car, you're giving the planet a much-needed break. Many people use cars a couple of times per day. More precisely, we get in our car at least two times – when we go to work and when we need to get back home. If we’re picking up kids from school or make a detour to the grocery store, that number can be significantly larger. Bike riding, on the other hand, uses minimal fossil fuels. This means riding your bike offers a pollution-free mode of transport. If you replace a car with a bike each time you go to work, you will save approximately 3000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
The exercise and outdoor time that bike riders experience boosts moods, fights obesity, and increases overall health. Plus? A recent study showed girls who either bike or walk at least 15 minutes to school scored higher on cognitive tests. Who knew getting her on a bike could help her be healthier, happier, and smarter? Join our Girl Cycle movement today!