I’ve owned a Peloton for a month — and it’s helped reduce my anxiety

a photo of a woman cycling the Peloton Bike plus
(Image credit: Peloton)

Like most runners, I’m not good at coping with not being able to run, so when a twisted ankle forced me to have an unplanned and unexpected sabbatical from marathon training, it didn’t take long for my anxiety to spike. Anyone who has met me for more than five seconds will know I’m a pretty active individual — I struggle to sit still at the best of times, and movement has, during various times of my life, been a coping mechanism for mental health issues. 

Throughout my teens and early twenties, I suffered from anorexia, and both running and swimming became my safe space — a time to process the various treatments and counseling sessions, and a way to get mentally and physically stronger. Four marathons later, I’m no longer plagued daily with negative thoughts or worries about food, but it’s something I’ll always have to manage. For months I’m fine, but during times of high stress, old habits can creep in unexpectedly. 

I’ve developed coping mechanisms — running, walking the dog, and sticking to a structured schedule with mealtimes — yet when an injury threw this all out of sync, it didn’t take long for the panic to set in. Although it wasn't as severe as a break, my twisted ankle meant putting any pressure on my foot was painful. Unable to walk the dog, let alone run, I spent a week with my foot iced and elevated, stressing about the unclosed rings on my Apple Watch

Luckily, I’d recently installed a Peloton Bike+ — one of the best exercise bikes — in the living room, and on a whim, I scrolled through the ‘mood’ series — a collection of classes with the workout and music structured around the rider's mood, including ‘Anxious,’ ‘Energized,’ ‘Frustrated,’ and ‘Grateful.’ After a 30-minute mood yoga flow (modified so as not to put weight on my injured ankle), I felt uplifted and realized the bike sitting in the corner of the room might be the training tool I needed as I recovered. 

It boosted my mood 

I truly believe you don’t realize how much exercise means to you until you can’t do it. Not being able to run or walk left me feeling incredibly frustrated, especially as I was six weeks out from race day. Despite being a horrible person to live with, and the most miserable member of the team in every Zoom call, being able to take the core and upper body classes on the Peloton boosted my mood. Studies have found exercise has a positive effect on mood, anxiety and depression, and getting the rush of endorphins after class helped me feel calmer.  

Peloton bike classes

(Image credit: Peloton)

It helped me reframe my goals 

A running coach once told me that in training and on race day you have to control the controllable — while I definitely couldn’t run, as the swelling went down, I could wear and ankle brace and spin my legs on the bike. 

There’s a reason why Peloton became the tech darling of the pandemic — it’s got a wide variety of classes, and there really is something for everyone. It’s also easy to work up a sweat without leaving the house, something I hadn’t had to worry about since the days of lockdown. As I was able to move around more, my morning Peloton class became a new part of my daily routine — it definitely wasn’t the same as the freedom I feel heading out for a morning run, or the calm I feel after an hour hiking with the dog, but it allowed me to start my day with movement, and that helped. 

Peloton’s power is in its instructors 

Pre testing the Bike+, I ran 100 miles or so on the Peloton Tread for a review. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again — the thing that makes Peloton stand out from an awfully crowded market is its instructors. On days where I felt particularly stressed, Cody Rigsby snapped me out of that funk. On mornings where I couldn’t stand on the Bike+ because my ankle wasn’t strong enough, Kendall Toole reminded me that it was ok. Without sounding like a fully indoctrinated member of the Peloton cult, the enthusiasm the instructors bring to the classes really is infectious.

So while my first month of testing the Bike+ definitely hasn’t been what I expected (I thought I’d be using the bike on double days to ensure I smashed a PR on race day), it’s been exactly what I needed to lift my mood, and help me feel positive about my recovery. It’s also been a vital reminder in the power movement has on the mind. Who knows if I’ll be racing on October 2nd, but for now, I’m grateful for the exercise I can do.

Thinking of investing in one of the best exercise bikes? Read our Peloton Bike review here, or check out the best Peloton alternatives. You can also now purchase the Peloton Bike, apparel, and accessories on Amazon.

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.