Watching as she flies downhill or over her see-saw on the edge of control makes me a proud daddy, even though my heart often skips a beat! I know it makes her happy and is brilliant for her mind and body. It got me thinking about the benefits of bike riding and why it’s so great for both adults and kids.
1. It's Great for Kids Physical development
Getting out for a bike ride is a great physical activity and will help build muscle, core strength and promote good posture, which will help kid’s body development. Unlike running or walking, riding a bike is non-impact so it causes less wear on kids growing joints.
In the USA, 12.7% of two to five-year-olds are obese, increasing to 20.7% in six to eleven-year-olds.
Riding a bike can help with heart health and reduce the potential for kids to become overweight. Being exposed to the fun and freedom of riding a bike will help maintain healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
2. It helps kids sleep better
The endorphins and energy used during a bike ride help kids relax and sleep better, which is necessary for their continued development. The serotonin and dopamine released during a bike ride make kids happy, relaxed and contented so that they will fall asleep more easily. In addition, the physical energy used to propel the bike leaves kids worn out, and their bodies will sleep well to recharge.
Time spent outdoors exposed to natural light helps to regulate our body’s rhythm, resulting in a deeper sleep. Conversely, exposure to artificial light indoors and through phones and television alters our internal clock and disrupts our sleep. On days that our family is outdoors, my little one sleeps far better than if we’ve been stuck in the house all day; thankfully a pretty rare event!
3. It's beneficial for mental health
Riding outside in the fresh air with the wind rushing over your head and body is a beautiful and soothing experience. Smelling the grass, hearing the birds and watching the leaves swish on the trees, combined with the heart pumping more oxygen to your brain, improves your mood and helps reduce anxiety and stress.
When you cycle, your body produces endorphins such as serotonin and dopamine, creating a “cycling high” which helps to relax your body and mind. This high can last a number of days afterwards, not just when you’re on the bike.
4. It's a great way to bond with friends and family
Heading out for a bike ride with friends or family is a great way to connect through the bond of shared activity. Even if you have small kids, they can use a front or rear-mounted child seat, crossbar saddle, bike trailer or speciality cargo bike.
We used a Thule bike trailer since our daughter was one year old, and she loved hopping into her own space with her toys and blankets. Even though she wasn’t riding herself, she was seeing us on our bikes, and that’s all part of getting her into cycling. Also, if you carry or tow a child on your bike, you’ll be pulling more weight up those hills, which boosts your own strength and fitness.
5. In towns, it's often faster than driving (and free)
With the continued expansion of segregated bike lanes, car-free zones, and low-speed 30km/hr roads, cycling in and around our towns has never been safer. While cars are stuck in traffic, bikes can zoom past and continue flowing through the congestion unimpeded.
Cycling to school gives kids a sense of accomplishment at the start of their day. Many teachers remark that kids who walk or cycle to school are more alert than those who are driven by car.
As fuel costs continue to rise, driving a car is getting more expensive, not to mention the damage to the environment. On the other hand, riding a bike is free, aside from the food needed to fuel your body.
6. It's great for the planet
We’re living in challenging times for the planet. We need to reduce our use of fossil fuels and rethink how we travel. Thankfully, many towns are getting more cycling-friendly, hopefully lowering people’s reliance on their cars. Reducing cars in our world helps lower CO2 in the atmosphere, but it’s also beneficial for our air quality.
7. You Experience more of Your surroundings
In 2008-10, I cycled around the world for 18 months, covering 30,000km through mountains, plains, deserts and coasts. Riding a bike, I felt I was part of the surroundings rather than just looking at them.
If driving by car or bus, you’re insulated from your surroundings and miss the potential wonder of the world around you.
Travelling by bicycle is more about the journey than just the start and finish points. You begin to notice the small things around you, the feeling of the air, the smells, the sounds. While riding through their neighbourhood, kids might bump into their friends or neighbours, helping to foster a sense of community.
Round the world cyclist, mountain bike racer, engineer and all round bike geek, Simon Evans clearly loves all things BIKE.
Simon worked as a Structural Engineer in Cambridge for a number of years before setting off on an 18 month, 30,000km cycle around the world, testing his bike, body and mind to the limit and giving a wealth of wonderful experiences.
Coming home in 2010, he wanted to combine his engineering with his love of bikes to create a better and more sustainable bike for kids. In 2015 he launched LittleBig bikes which have now been sold to 77 countries around the world giving thousands of kids the best start on two wheels.