There is no denying that veterans deserve all of the assistance and healing they can get from society after their service. One of the more popular ways that this healing can be achieved is through cycling.
According to Joe Tarver of Rock and Roll Cycles, discoveries made by experts note that cycling aligns circadian rhythms and therefore decrease the amount of stress hormones produced by the brain. For veterans that are disabled, advancements in the cycling industry creating recumbent trikes and adaptive cycles can provide them with the stimulation needed for healing.
Below, examples of the benefits of cycling for mental health and overall wellness are discussed and some of the uses of accommodative bikes that are designed for injured veterans are examined.
According to the book “Veteran and Military Mental Health Issues” by Catarina Inoue, two of the most publicized issues facing veterans are mental health diagnoses of depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. With as many as 6% of the entire United States population serving in the military, these mental health concerns facing veterans are also facing the country at large.
With such a daunting problem, it can be difficult to imagine how a simple cycling program can benefit veterans. However, cycling has been proven to come with many benefits that can apply directly to the mental health concerns associated with years of service.
Below is a list of benefits that can be derived through the exercise of cycling for overall wellness and mental health:
- Cycling is Proven to Lower Depression – Depression can be caused by low levels of serotonin or norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters that cycling can directly stimulate into existence. Additionally, cycling has been linked to providing a sense of purpose to those engaging in the exercise, lowering the focus on depressive thoughts.
- Cycling has Been Linked to Helping PTSD – According to American veterans, cycling alleviates symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by focusing the rider on the environment they are cycling through in the present. Since many with PTSD are entrenched in focusing on the past or future worries, this benefit is crucial.
- Accommodative Cycles Provide Opportunity Despite Injuries – Many clinics provide opportunities for veterans to get out and experience the mental and overall health benefits of cycling despite any injuries or disabilities they may have. These clinics have specifically created models that adapt to the injuries of riders.
Accommodative cycles are bicycle models that are specifically created to be operable by those with disabilities including, but not limited to, the loss of a limb or motor function. For example, if a service member has lost the use of his or her legs, handcycles have been created to be powered by the upper body and arms, instead.
For veterans who are partially paralyzed or cannot move a bike along using the traditionally held method of their legs, this type of adaptive bike is the perfect way to continue to participate with the activity.
In summary, veterans can suffer from both a mental and physical injuries after their service. This can lead to depression or symptoms of PTSD, especially for those adapting to life with limb injuries. However, the benefits of cycling as an exercise can not only alleviate some of those symptoms, but with the invention of accommodative cycles like the handcycle, disabilities do not have to limit our veterans.