Mental health: NHS launches new treatment to help improve patient’s well-being

Truck driver debates Jeremy Vine over new cycling laws

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It is also a way for people to improve their mental health.

Like other exercises, such as running and swimming, the exercise a person gets from cycling releases endorphins that improve how they feel, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.

While this sounds like mere theory, the NHS is putting it into practice.

Staff at NHS Lanarkshire have set up a project where cycling is used to improve mental health.

Developed by mental health nursing and occupational therapy staff in partnership with Scottish Cycling, the project aims to support patients through occupational therapy.

Susan Cairns, an advanced practitioner at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “One of our patients was loaned a bike as part of this occupational therapy treatment [and he] has reported a reduction in the use of his medication.”

The aim of occupational therapy is to improve a person’s ability to do everyday tasks.

The NHS says that it can help with practical tasks if a person:
• Is physically disabled
• Is recovering from an illness or operation
• Has learning disabilities
• Has mental health problems
• Is getting older.

Outside of mental health, there are physical benefits to getting on a bicycle including improving cardiovascular fitness.

Cycling, as a form of cardiovascular exercise, can help with this.

There are other substantial benefits to cycling beyond improving our cardiovascular fitness.

Cycling can increase our muscle strength and flexibility for example.

Getting on the bike can also improve joint mobility and flexibility as well as improve posture and coordination.

All this, along with helping you reduce weight through burning calories, adds up to a big difference.

In tandem with a healthy diet, cycling can reduce your chances of developing several health-related conditions which can be in part averted by a healthy lifestyle.

This includes heart disease with the University of Glasgow finding that those who cycle to work could be cutting their risk of developing heart disease and cancer by 50 percent.

Although it may sound surprising and relevant only to those who live in cities, cycling can reduce how exposed a person is to air pollution.

A study by King’s College London suggested that cyclists were exposed to five times less air pollution than those in cars.

Cycling is just one of a number of exercises that can get you outside alongside increasing your social circle and improving your mood.

For more information about mental health treatments, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, contact the NHS or your GP.

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