At Hope High School all pupils are encouraged to be active. The NHS recommends that young people should take part in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.
We know this does not always happen.
The benefits of regular cycling for fitness are well known, we are also beginning to understand that cycling can be just as helpful to our emotional well-being and promotes confidence, problem solving abilities, a ‘can do’ attitude and improves an appreciation of the outdoors.
Why we do it-
– Reduces stress
Aerobic exercise can reduce levels of cortisol in young people- the ‘stress hormone’. Any cyclist will recognise a reduction in tension that a bike ride brings. For some pupils the benefits are greater still, because high stress levels can be a foundation for other conditions and emotional difficulties.
– Reduces anxiety
Aerobic exercise is known to stimulate the release of endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones. This can reduce anxiety and reduce the onset of angry feelings and negative emotions.
– Calmer thinking
Cycling promotes mindfulness, when a pupil can focus on the present moment; being outdoors surrounded by wildlife and nature, instead of being caught up in racing thoughts. When cycling a young person doesn’t have to think about anything except balancing the bike, pushing the pedals, feeling the breeze, and enjoying the freedom. This can help improve focus and concentration.
– Improves mood
Exercise boosts the mood of young people; cycling has been shown to promote positive feelings. Cycling combats some negative emotions, such as anger, which young people can find overwhelming and difficult to manage.
– Increases self-esteem
Exercise and cycling help children and young people to develop a positive view of themselves. As well as becoming fitter, pupils prove to themselves that they’re up to the challenge of a bike ride. This can give young people a sense of satisfaction and self-control. A typical mountain biking trip will encounter a range of hurdles; whether they be hills, puddles, rocky ground or branches, with pupils always being encouraged to develop a positive attitude to overcome barriers and succeed. Promoting this attitude can bring real benefits to students.
These benefits are all cited by the charity ‘Mind’. The evidence from studies into cycling and the mental health benefits of riding a bike support what we see at school when young people cycle.
In 2017 ‘Cycling UK’ published ‘Rides of Way’, a survey of almost 11,500 off-road cyclists. An astonishing 91% of respondents rated off-road cycling as fairly or very important for their mental health – more than those who said it benefited their physical health.
Further Learning through Cycling
During bike rides pupils are taught respect for wildlife and nature, introduced to skills such as map reading and navigation and teamwork. Outdoor learning in local history, geography and science are also a big part of bike rides- each hill is a store of potential energy!
How we Do it-
At Hope High School we have eight of our own Specialised mountain bikes, which are maintained by The Bike Works in Skelmersdale. We are fortunate to have easy access to Beacon Country Park, which can be reached within a few minutes using the local ‘cycle only’ network. Beacon Country Park has a wide network of tracks and bridleway trails with cycling permitted.
Cycling is offered each Friday afternoon to all pupils as part of the enrichment programme at Hope High. Each ride is led by a teacher who is a qualified mountain bike leader, who is registered with British Cycling and holds the appropriate current Outdoor First Aid Certificate and supported by another member of staff.