People with mental ill health made genuine progress in their personal resilience, self-efficacy, social skills and confidence thanks to a six week pilot project offering mountain biking as part of a therapeutic recovery programme.
The programme, run in the Scottish Borders last year, took place at the Glentress trail Centre near Peebles. Feeback from participants was very positive. Comments included:
“It’s just the feeling of the wind in your hair.”
“I woke up this morning feeling rubbish, now – after mountain biking – I am feeling good about myself and ready for the week.”
“I had a crap weekend, but I am back smiling now.”
“You don’t think it’s therapy – but it really is – and it really works for me.”
“This was a hugely innovative and exciting project and I am delighted to hear that our clients found it to be so beneficial," said Robert McCulloch-Graham, Chief Officer Health and Social Integration for the Partnership. It certainly seems to have been one of the best attended programmes the Partnership has delivered with staff reporting an exceptional response from everyone taking part." The programme is being evaluated at Napier University.
Of course, you don't need to wait until you have mental health problems before you benefit from regular mountain biking. I find it is a great way of ironing out the general stresses that work and life throw at me. I also love the feeling of wind in my hair, the way it banishes my to do list stills my mind. When I'm concentrating on the trail in front of me, there's no room for everyday worries, and plenty of time to enjoy the views and soak up the positive vibes of being in nature.
Many people are put off the idea of mountain biking, labelling it dangerous and scary. But all it really means is riding off-road - and you can choose how easy or difficult you want it to be - both in terms of fitness and skill level. If you want to give it a try, check out our Get Back on a Bike rides for women every Friday at Haldon Forest Park.