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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Experiences with Participation in a Supervised Group-Based Outdoor Cycling Programme for People with Mental Illness: A Focus Group Study

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Epidemiological evidence suggests that physical exercise, notably popular sports, is associated with reduced, mental health burden. This study explored participation in a supervised, group-based, outdoor cycling programme (10 × 10 km rides over a five-month period) for people with mental illness. We conducted two rounds of three audio-taped focus groups with people with mental illness (n = 25, mean age = 40 years) that focused on previous physical activity and motivation for enrolment (baseline), and on programme evaluation, including subjective wellbeing (after 10 weeks). Transcribed verbatim, the group discussions were analysed using systematic text condensation, which identified 12 categories and four themes: 1) Reinvigoration, (2) motivation through equal status, (3) group commitment without focus on illness, and (4) the value of cycling. Of particular interest was the potential for outdoor cycling to support unique non-stigmatising therapeutic relationships in a non-patient environment, outdoor sensory experiences, e.g., fresh air, wind, and rain, and feelings of personal mastery, equal status, solidarity, community, and healing. This study indicated that outdoor cycling performed in groups supervised by healthcare staff may support exercise self-efficacy and empower people with mental illness, potentially promoting long-term physical activity and participation. Future interventional studies examining the effectiveness of outdoor cycling complementary to conventional community mental healthcare services are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume16
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)528-538
Number of pages11
ISSN1661-7827
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2019

ID: 56708438