No kid on the planet doesn't love cycling. Riding a bike is a childhood activity that is fun, fast, and gives them the feeling of freedom. For many children, riding a bike—from training wheels to cruising on two wheels—is a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. Plus, cycling increases brain development and cardiovascular health and protects the environment.
Cycling is also a bonding activity for the whole family that burns calories, zaps stress, and improves mood. But, in today's digital world, it's hard to convince your child to go cycling. Children are drawn to video games or TV; parents find it hard to bring them into the real world. But constantly staying at home is toxic and unhealthy. Parents fear they might seem harsh if they limit screen time, but cycling has many advantages. Besides, it's a shame to let your set of wheels sit in the garage, so it's best to encourage your little one to make it a regular activity.
What are the actual benefits of cycling? Find out in this article.
See also A Guide to Running with Strollers.
Why Cycle with Your Kids at a Young Age?
Nowadays, it's easier to cycle with young children. But at what age do children start riding bikes? Usually, children between 3 and 7 years old can cycle if the bike has a seat. They can begin the journey and gain bike handling skills.
As they grow older, you can buy them a tricycle, a balance bike, a pedal bike, or a bike without training wheels. A balance bike, for example, is great for toddlers, although older kids can use it too. Of course, kids who love mountain biking can choose a mountain bike. If you plan to only bike in the city, choose a comfortable road bike. Make sure to get the right bike fit.
It’s good to start cycling young because it:
- Improves fitness
- Boosts a positive mental attitude
- Introduces healthy habits to children
- Helps travel around town for free
How to Choose Your Bike
Children grow quickly, so buying a bike is confusing. Kids bikes are not based on the frame height or length but the wheel size. That's why choosing the best kids' bike is a serious business because you want to make sure their first cycling experience is joyful and the bike riding feels as natural as possible. They need to find fun in cycling, so it's worth investing in the perfect bike.
Sizing charts are perfect for choosing a bike for your kid, but you should be considerate of:
Safety: A bike is not safe to ride if your child can't touch the ground or when they can't reach handlebars and brakes comfortably. If it's too small, the child will hit the handlebars with his knees or be hunched over. As a result, it's unsafe, and the bike can seem unstable or out of control.
Comfort: If the bike doesn’t fit properly, the child will be uncomfortable, even if kids are more resilient than adults. They will be less likely to ride the bike if it doesn’t fit and the bike seat is uncomfortable, and it won’t be as fun.
Budget: When it comes to kids bikes, you get what you pay for. In general, the cheaper the bike, the heavier it will be. Always think about your budget and what you can afford. A thing to remember: although bikes are pricey, they hold their value. When your child outgrows the bike, you can fetch a pretty price on it.
Furthermore, if you don't have the extra funds for a new bike, there are still strategies for saving money. Many shops sell used bikes, or you can donate to your community. Other parents can give used bicycles to those who need them.
- Take your child’s weight into consideration, as heavy bikes should represent a significant percentage of the child’s weight;
- Don’t buy kids bikes that are not age-appropriate, a bike your child will ‘grow into’;
- Buy a bike helmet! Go to your local bike shop to find a properly fitted helmet.
- Don’t worry if your child ends up with scraped knees and bruises. It shouldn’t stop you from teaching him how to ride a bike, but if it’s risky, then take safety precautions;
- Service the bike regularly;
- Teach your child about the various parts of the bicycle, so when it breaks down, they can handle it themselves.
The Importance of Cycling
Many parents pick cycling because it's more active than other sports. But, at the same time, parents wonder why they bother teaching their children how to ride a bike? If the child is fussy, it might seem like a total waste of time. But learning to ride a bike is an essential skill that will stay with the child for life.
While cycling is good for physical health, there are other reasons why learning to ride is important. Here are some of the benefits of cycling for kids:
1. Supports Kids’ Development
Kids are constantly growing, so cycling develops their entire body muscle and enhances bone health and strength. Furthermore, it helps develop the lungs and cardiovascular muscles. Pedaling also stimulates the body stamina and heart rate and controls the kids' weight.
2. Promotes Emotional Wellness
It's no secret that cycling boosts confidence in kids because they begin to move independently. Since they go out, it helps children become aware of their bodies and surroundings. At the same time, they feel more responsible and more comfortable when they go outside without feeling helpless.
3. Improves Social Skills
Due to the pandemic, we don't interact with other people as much. However, cycling can develop the necessary social skills and help children make new friends. Cycling allows kids to interact with peers that have the same interest in the neighborhood. While cycling, the children can share ideas, aspirations, ambitions, discuss problems and secrets. As parents, you can also organize a friendly biking competition.
4. It’s Good for the Environment
The planet is vital to humans, so you should start with cycling if you want to start raising eco-conscious children. Cycling helps them interact with Mother Nature, and using a bike reduces carbon emissions, eases traffic congestion, and eliminates parking issues. If we all use bicycles, the world will become greener and healthier. If we replace 30% of our car trips with bikes, we can reduce CO2 emissions by 4%.
5. Strengthens Family Bonds
People of all ages can enjoy cycling, making it a great family activity. By cycling, you can burn 600 calories an hour, boosting your metabolism. Besides, when pedaling alongside your family members, you won't even feel you're working out. In addition, cycling creates and maintains lasting relationships by discussing worries, understanding problems, and advising them about life. Cycling pushes all the appropriate parenting buttons, especially for men and boys, who can have man-to-man talk time.
6. Keeps Your Children Active
Cycling will help children become more active. For example, most health experts say a growing child needs an hour of exercise each day to develop strong muscles and bones. But many children are still not active enough. The majority of children prefer gaming consoles and TV, and they are more sedentary than older generations. Being less active and spending too much time indoors will make children lazy and inactive. This can lead to obesity and other health problems. Cycling helps kids remain healthy and tones their bodies, and is fun. Plus, to convince them, you can lead by example: the more the child sees you cycling, the more they'll be interested in it too.
7. Relieves Stress
Believe it or not, children can get stressed too. Stress is a big problem for everyone in today's hectic world, but it can have life-long effects on children. Cycling has immense positive mental benefits, such as increased levels of happiness and low stress levels. After a long day of school, cycling can also re-energize kids since all they focus on is their inner happiness. Worries will melt away, and the children become calmer and serene.
8. Improves Brain and Mental Power
Riding a bike requires little skill, but it needs coordination, pedaling, and control skills. Cycling is good for physical fitness and benefits children's learning development and mental health. Many studies have linked cycling to brain health and power because when kids cycle, the blood flow to the brain increases. As a result, their brains stay healthy.
9. Energizes the Children Holistically
Cycling helps balance children, such as:
- Children will get Vitamin D and fresh air, which rejuvenates them. As a result, the children will sleep better at night.
- Since they go out more often, children will reduce the time obsessing over gadgets and TV.
- Children tend to be more active in school and do more activities.
10. Helps Them Focus in School
Children who ride a bike to school are more focused and eager to learn. Taking part in daily physical activity helps them increase their happiness and more opportunities to communicate. In addition, students who bike can pay more attention to school and enhance cognitive skills due to their brain staying healthy.
11. Helps the Child Know the Neighborhood
Children are curious by nature, so a bike gives them the chance to explore their surroundings and get acquainted with their neighbors. A local community is valuable to any family, plus, your child will learn how to navigate the town, making it less likely to get lost. When you ride together, you can point out various landmarks and buildings, so they will know about police stations or playgrounds when they get older.
12. It’s a Great Transportation Mode
Bikes are the perfect transportation mode. The child will become more independent as they ride their bike to school or hang out with friends. It also saves you time because the child doesn't rely on you for lifts. Besides, children might feel embarrassed at a certain age when you come after them.
Start Your Child’s Fitness Journey
Our modern world is always busy. Work, school, family. We don’t have much personal freedom: working hours have shrunk, but most people spend at least 30 to 60 minutes a day going to and from the office. Most parents don’t have a lot of time to spend with their family—and this lack of time can put pressure on their relationships with their little ones. So why take kids for a bike ride?
Family bike rides are an excellent solution to the problem because you spend quality time with your loved ones. By pedaling beside each other, you can reach a new level of understanding; plus, it's free as long as you have a bike! When you go cycling, it's important to remember to have fun. No one is rushing you, so you can start slowly and take plenty of breaks. Your little riders need time to rest; don't make it a chore.
With time and practice, bike riding can become a routine. One-third of children don't currently achieve 60 minutes of physical activity per day, but yours can. Before going out, make sure your child is comfortably dressed and prepared for the right weather. In cold weather, dress in layers, while in hot weather, you can wear lightweight materials that allow you to sweat. Take water bottles, sunglasses, hats, bike locks, a tire pump, sandwiches, and snacks, but make sure your child is not burdened with too many items. They can lose their balance and fall.
Make a plan before cycling and find an exciting place for your child. Make frequent stops to cafes, a nice grassy area, or whatever entertains your child. They won't get bored while cycling, but it's good to have a place where they can stretch their legs. Keep it accessible and never push too much. If no one is enjoying the trip, you must be doing something wrong. Sometimes, the simple things in life are most rewarding—and keep in mind that little children are not a barrier to cycling.
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