By Haley Hobart
Cycling is great way to encourage your kids to become more active and live a healthier lifestyle. Tearing them away from their smart phone or the latest video game can often be challenging but cycling is great fun with endless health benefits. We’ve put together this guide explaining the advantages of cycling with some simple tips to get started.
Cycling is a popular form of cardiovascular exercise which can prevent heart complications in the future and reduce the likelihood of obesity. This low impact workout is gentle on the joints with a low chance of injury compared to other, more intense sports. It also increases the metabolism and burns calories, long after the ride is over.
Motor skills are improved as the body carries out the task of peddling and steering simultaneously whilst using body weight. This can improve co-ordination, a transferable skill which can improve sporting ability and day-to-day tasks. Studies have also linked cycling with improved mental health which may be a result of a healthier lifestyle combined with the fun that comes from exploring nature on two wheels. Still not convinced? It’s also great for the immune system which means less chance of picking up those nasty flu bugs and less time off school.
How to get started
Always do plenty of research before buying your kids bikes. There’s plenty of options to choose from but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Be sure to choose a bike which is appropriate for the terrain. One which includes off-road suspension and a titanium frame won’t be necessary for everyday use and will cost a hefty amount. Instead, choose a mid-way option which includes front suspension. Don’t be tempted by the cheap options which are often unreliable and can be more costly in the long term.
Once they’ve got their bike, you can encourage your kids to plan routes or little adventures. You can also find cycling routes online and there’s many dedicated groups catering for families and children which meet weekly. Here they can make new friends and enjoy the safety of a larger group.
Keeping your children safe on a bike is simple and only requires a few precautions. Firstly, be sure to choose an appropriate size bike which your child feels fully in control of. If they’re still in the learning stage, they must be able to place both feet on the floor which should avoid any nasty falls.
Helmets are essential, whilst knee and elbow pads are an optional extra. These can provide added peace of mind for off road cycling. Purchasing hi-visibility clothing, lights and reflectors for evening bike rides is also a must. Finally, there’s plenty of certified training courses testing cycling proficiency, highlighting the dangers of traffic and the importance of safe riding on the road. This can be a great introduction for your children, developing a skill which will keep them safe for years to come.
Cycling is an exercise that your children will love and if you’re lucky they’ll spend less time on social media and slouched in front of the TV.
– Haley Hobart has been a mom and a writer for 10 years and frequently contributes to mommy sites and DIY sites with her expertise. She lives in London with her partner and kids of three.