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Did you catch the cycling bug? Why biking make us happy

Did you catch the cycling bug too? Unlike the coronavirus which is the cause of misery for us all today, this cycling bug is scientifically proven to inhibit happiness.

That's right! I know because we caught it too!

Why biking make us happy
Meguro River in the summer

In this article:
  • Why does cycling make us happy? 
  • How biking help us cope up during this time
  • It's not just me! Other bikers caught the cycling bug too!

The science of positive psychology

I read an article from where they listed 15 reasons why cycling makes us happy based on the science of positive psychology.  

One of the reasons that stuck to me is the "Sensation seeking and thrill" factor of it.  "Risk and opportunities for a ‘thrill’ can be part of every ride – and the buzz of a fast descent, the rush of a bunch sprint, or the challenge of an off-road track or rock-garden can give us a grin that lasts for days."

As an exercise, the scientific explanation behind it is that it enhances the release of happy chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. It also increases the supply of oxygen to the brain which boosts the release of endorphins.

To put it simply, the way I understand it, these chemicals are as powerful as morphine!

For our non-cycling friends, it is as simple as the happiness of owning a precious toy! It causes the same joy as owning a collection of toys, a musical instrument, a luxury bag, or a car.  Only with cycling - it is mostly always social. This means we get to enjoy it with fellow cycling enthusiasts!

Living in Japan during the pandemic - how cycling helps

Are following the world news reports? If so, you'll know that although we are dealing with the same virus, the situation and restrictions vary for each country.

Here in Japan, there was never a lockdown. Sure, we were requested to stay home. But that's just about it - a request. 

In March, the government declared a state of emergency and a lot of commercial establishments (non-essentials) closed. However, transportations are still operational and public parks are still open so families can still go out. We complied with the request and stayed home.

When the state of emergency was lifted, life went on as usual.  School re-open, people dine out, some workforce went back to work in their offices, and families go to the park.

Yes, including us! There was a significant increase in people using two-wheeled vehicles for the commute. We are part of the increase.

|RELATED ARTICLE: Buying a Bicycle in Japan

Why biking make us happy
Oifuto Central Seaside Park

We bought bicycles to comply with the government's request to avoid 3 C's: confined spaces, crowded places, and close contact.

Now, we can explore places but only limited to big open spaces.  You see, that is the difference. Even if Tokyo is a crowded city, it has a surprising 6,000 different parks covering 1,000 hectares of its land.

Why biking make us happy
Komazawa Olympic Park near Central area

Apartments are small and expensive, no wonder children are always at the parks. Around the residential area, the road may be narrow but there are always wide sidewalks. Wide enough to share with bicycles. 

So this summer, we would bike up to 7 kilometers away from home just to explore a different place. Ah... the joy and thrill of pedaling!  The euphoric part about it is getting to enjoy and savor the moment in whatever view we get to see!

Why biking make us happy
Oifuto Central Seaside Park - 7km away from home

Why biking make us happy
just resting - Tamagawa area

Just when I started to get confident. My hands, arms, and shoulder muscles no longer feel sore. Just when I could finally feel relaxed... we had our first bike accident! It was so traumatic Lucas' lips literally lost color right after it and vomited. I got dizzy and I thought I was going to pass out. But maybe that's a story for another blog - yeah? Hehe!

Why biking make us happy
Naka-meguro river side

They caught the cycling bug too!

Is it for real? Does biking really make us happy? Or is it just me?

I talked to other cyclist and here's what they got to say:

I talked to my sister. She's always got itchy feet so when the restrictions were lifted she either walk with our cousins or bike with her friends.

Why biking make us happy
My sister Cherry at the province

Being more extroverted than I will ever be, she particularly loved the "social" part of it. One particular study entitled From Pedal to People: The Social Effects of Biking, examined the sense of community created by biking, they found that "bikers generally feel a good sense of community with bikers around them".

Why biking make us happy
Happy bikers. They start before 6am!

Why biking make us happy
Stopping by farms & sporting their smile

A photographer friend of mine @jj_guia started biking too. He initially bought the bicycle to run errands. Now he tours around Lopez, Quezon with his friends. By now, he created photo documentation of how beautiful our hometown is.

Why biking make us happy
Sensation and thrill ba kamo?

Why biking make us happy
Happy bikers. He bikes with different sets of friends and would sometimes go beyond their set time limit because the landscape is magnificent!

JJ loves that he gets to see the detail of the landscapes. Landscapes that you won't be able to reach by simply walking. With the details that you can't really savor when you are riding a car. 

For my friend Aries, who works in Manila, he started using his bike to commute to work. And with the four-wheeled dominated city with no bike lane, it can be stressful to ride a bike. He admitted that it is a love and hate relationship between him and biking to work. However, since biking is a work-out in itself and keeps him away from other commuters, he makes the most of it by documenting his travels through his GoPro.

Another friend of mine from Manila, Grace, started biking with her family. She loves that she still gets to go around the city during this time. She also gets some much-needed exercise while bonding with family.

Why biking make us happy
Grace's brand new bikes!

Did you catch the cycling bug too? Or have you had it for a long time? How was it? 

All photos were posted with permission from the owners.

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