Many people still assume that cycling is only for their children to whizz around the streets, or for those semi-professional riders who are committed to riding long distances, wearing their tight fitting lycra and riding an expensive carbon framed racing bike.
People tend to forget that cycling is primarily a method of transport to get from A-B and can be done at all levels, involving the whole family from a very young age.
Family cycling benefits
As stated above, really don’t be put-off by the idea of getting your kids involved in cycling. There are numerous cycling benefits that can bring great benefits to your brood.
There are many cycling benefits, including:
Fitness & health – the main cycling benefit is of course the amazing cardio workout it gives you. It can either get you in shape and help maintain a high level of good health. Or it can help you with your already exercise efforts if you are already a fitness fanatic.
Creates team building – when done with the family it’s almost like team work, which we all know helps create stronger more meaningful connections with each other.
Low cost travel – it’s a free form of transportation. If you need to travel somewhere forget taking the car or bus, just get the bikes out and away you go. Additionally you get fit and save money in the process – no brainer!
Stress relief – cycling is good for your mental health as it is for your body. When you exercise your body produces good chemicals. These help to keen you happy as well as relieve anxieties that might have developed through family life or work.
Enjoy your surroundings – too many people stay indoors in today’s world. Cycling gets you out and about; this means you get fresh air. Nothing else to say on this one.
Mental health and well-being- exercise like cycling has a range of benefits for mental well-being. It can help you practice mindfulness, reduce stress and anxiety, improve your social life and boost your self-esteem.
Family cycling – getting children involved
There is absolutely every reason to get your kids cycling. It’s a wonderful activity to enhance your kid’s fitness and cardio level, as well as being enjoyable, which makes cycling something they actually want to do, and more importantly, do with you!
How to keep them interested:
– Allow for regular stops to see different things along the route.
– Keep the group together, nobody wants to be stuck at the back.
– Make sure their bikes are serviced, especially tyres pumped up properly.
– Use trailers, tag-a-longs or tandems so that the smaller riders don’t tire too quickly.
– Bring provisions along, drinks and quick energy food.
Cycling is a low impact exercise meaning there is little danger of your child getting injured, especially when it comes to muscle and joint injuries. However with smaller riders make sure you are not over exerting them, keep distances short to start with until you see what their levels are.
Make sure bikes are fully serviced and that ALL riders are wearing helmets, you can’t enforce them to wear a helmet if you don’t do it yourself.
Nowadays there are lots of options to help youngsters keep up and enjoy their riding, including child seats for the very young, tag-a-longs or bar attachments for those slightly older, or even adult/child tandems so that you are really part of a single team.
Bespoke cycling holidays
We all go on holiday with the kids, and often it’s a package holiday and they are just left to “play”. Why not choose to take them on a cycling holiday instead?
There are a good selection of family cycling holidays here in the UK that as well as being a good way of keeping fit, are also interesting and explore the history of our country. These include The Hadrian’s Cycle Way which follows the route of Hadrians Wall (Roman battles) or The Coast & Castles which takes you through the feudal areas of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders with stunning castles to explore and spectacular countryside.
Nonetheless, the selection of cycle holiday routes is so broad that there will be a perfect one there for you no matter the age of your kids. Happy cycling!
Ian at pedal-power.co.uk.