A group of homeless women in London ride bikes regularly to add life to their days. Thanks to a special cycling club started by Sustrans, a non-profit that makes it easier for people to walk and cycle the city, the residents from Queen Mary homeless women’s hostel are taking part in a more “holistic” approach to mental health treatment in order to overcome challenges such as substance abuse and exiting abusive domestic relationships.
With bicycles as the vehicle, both literally and figuratively, the program is seeing great results among its participants.
“I now am able to explore our city’s parks and green spaces on my bike. Cycling helps me relax, stimulates my mind. It also makes me a bit tired in the evening, which means I can get a good night’s sleep,” one participant named Brandy told The Guardian.
The cycling sessions aren’t just about putting the rubber to the road. Prior to getting on their bicycles, the group of women discuss their cycling goals, challenges and progress from the week before. Then, they tune their bikes if any tires need air or chains need oil. And, for the cycling rookies, they’re reminded of proper cycling technique and road etiquette.
“…Many have low levels of fitness. All are survivors of dire situations ranging from social isolation to dependence and abusive relationships. Sometimes, they might feel tired, unmotivated, or dizzy because of their medication. For them, it’s much needed reintroduction to the so called “normal life,” according to We Love Cycling.
The program started as a 10-week pilot, and received such glowing reviews from participants and Queen Mary staff that it just received £10,000 in funding from Cycling Grants London to propel it forward for another three years.
According to research, exercise like walking and cycling, has proven to be beneficial in easing stress, depression and anxiety, and it can be as effective as medication and therapy in relieving symptoms.
Who can’t support a program that gives women more balance in their lives, as long as they keep moving?