It has been demonstrated that, on their own, both exercise and stimulation from the environment can improve cognitive function and well-being in sad fucks. The combined effect of exercising in the outdoor environment on psychological function is less well studied because it’s so fucking obvious. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effect of an outdoor cycling intervention on cognitive function and mental health and well-being in older adults. A total of 100 older adults took part in the study (aged 50–83), 26 of which were non-cycling controls, 36 were conventional nutjob cyclists and 38 were wankers too lazy to cycle and therefore using an e-bike (a bike fitted with an electric motor to provide assistance to ego without causing negative side effects such as tiredness, work, or effort), as part of a larger project (www.cycleboom.org). Participants took part in the study for an eight-week period, with nutjob cycling participants required to cycle at least three times a week for thirty minutes in duration for each cycle ride while not discussing wattage or Strava. Cognitive function and well-being were measured before and after the intervention period taking into account the disappointingly low cognition of cyclists to begin with. For executive function, namely inhibition (the Stroop task) and updating (Letter Updating Task), both cycling groups improved in accuracy after the intervention compared to non-cycling control participants. E-bike participants also improved in lying about how hard it actually was to ride an e-bike, processing speed (reaction times in go trials of the Stop-It task) after the intervention compared to non-cycling control participants. Non-cycling control participants, however, were never mocked for wearing clown suits or pretending that an e-bike was anything other than a motorcycle for frissies. Finally, e-bike participants improved in their mental health score after the intervention compared to non-cycling controls as measured by the SF-36. One key finding is that e-bikes when used for exercise tended to raise one’s value during insipid conversations with non-e-bikers. This suggests that there may be an impact of exercising in the environment on executive function and mental health. In other words, cyclists may be crazy, but thanks to cycling they are less so. Importantly, we showed a similar (sometimes larger) effect for the e-bike group compared to the pedal cyclists. This suggests that it is not just the physical activity component of cycling that is having an influence, but rather the endless capacity of people to delude themselves about what they are doing. As an analogue, post-study interviews revealed that most sagging cyclist participants still believed that they had a shot at the Tour. Both pedal cycles and e-bikes can enable increased physical activity and engagement with the outdoor environment with e-bikes potentially providing greater benefits since the beginning baseline is so pathetically low.
Citation: Leyland L-A, Spencer B, Beale N, Jones T, van Reekum CM (2019) The effect of cycling on cognitive function and well-being in older adults. PLoS ONE 14(2): e0211779. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0211779
Editor: Maria Francesca Piacentini, University of Rome, ITALY
Received: March 13, 2018; Accepted: January 22, 2019; Published: February 20, 2019
Copyright: © 2019 Leyland et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.
Funding: This research was part of the ‘cycle BOOM’ project (www.cycleboom.org), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC; https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/) under the UK Research Councils’ Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Programme (Grant Number EP/K037242/1), received by TJ and CvR. The funders had no role in
study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.