Cycling, Body Image, and Mental Health 

~~This is a living document we are working to improve with community feedback and professional guidance~~

We all have seen the image of a “typical cyclist” with bulging leg muscles and popping veins that adorn a skeletal frame. We, as Stanford Cycling, firmly believe that every body type is a cycling body and we want to highlight the danger of stereotyping body types. Studies have shown that male and female athletes are more likely to develop eating disorders, especially in endurance sports like cycling.

Pressure from training, competition, and performance at all levels can take a toll on mental health and exacerbate disordered eating behaviors. We recognize individual struggle in sport is often valorized, but we believe it is important for our athletes, and all athletes, to seek help when they are having difficulties with mental health. It is a courageous act to seek medical help when struggling with mental health.

We aim to recognize and normalize the discussion of mental health struggles in sport so that individuals realize they are not alone in this common struggle. We also recognize that sports like cycling are an excellent means for improving mental health. Below you can find both a list of resources as well as community voices that illustrate the breadth and prevalence of mental health disorders and body type challenges faced by cyclists. You are not alone.

Resources for mental health at Stanford:

Eating disorder resources:

  • NEDA “what are eating disorders” webpage:
  • NEDA athletes webpage:
  • Hotlines and crisis centers
    • National Eating Disorder Association
      • International Treatment referrals and prevention information
        • Call 1-800-931-2237
      • Immediate help in a crisis
        • Crisis Text Line: Text “NEDA” to 741741
    • ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders)
      • Referrals to treatment and information
        • Call (630) 577-1330
    • Massachusetts Eating Disorder Association, Inc Helpline
      • Talk to trained and supervised individuals
        • Call 1-617-558-1881
    • The Renfrew Center
      • Referrals to Eating Disorder specialists (US and Canada)
        • Call 1-800-736-3739

Community Voices 

~~we will add local voices here!~~

TW, suicide, depression. Kelly Caitlin’s tragic death speaks to all cyclists. It is not a sign of personal ‘weakness’ or ‘failure’ to see help. Characteristics that often correlate with excellence in sports  (hard-working, disciplined, self-critical, enduring suffering) can easily fuel mental health disorders.

Other Social Media Resources athletes sharing their stories body image and cycling, preventing fatphobia in cycling, don’t emphasize/promote cycling as weight-loss tool.