Getting fit as a family, two wheels at a time. With products on the market such as toddler bike seats and trailers, it’s easier than ever to go cycling as a unit. We explore the benefits of two wheels for the family.
By Taryn Dekel
Spend Time Together as a Family
Modern parenting requires us to schedule in downtime. Crazy, right? But all too real for most of us. Having a regular cycling date with the whole clan will encourage conversation and strengthen the family bond. You’ll find yourself having conversations outside the home on a bike ride that might not occur normally.
While you’re having fun and exploring the neighbourhood you can kill two birds with one stone by getting fit as a family. Exercising in a group with an informal setting will hardly even feel like exercise but you’ll reap all the benefits. Cycling together will also encourage your children to maintain a healthy lifestyle from their formative years right through to adulthood.
Exercise, in general, has amazing stress relief benefits but being outside in nature can improve your mood, increase vitamin D consumption and reduce sleep disorders. Cycling can increase stamina, strength, and aerobic fitness but even a lazy ride around the block can improve your general well-being.
Encourage Physical Activity
Cycling as a family can introduce much-needed activity for the modern child. Often found with a head buried in an iPad or fixated on an X-Box, getting your child out of the house and on a bike will do wonders. Lead by example and show your children how it’s done. Very often buying additional gear such as special gloves or personalized water bottles can add that extra bit of encouragement to get everything going. Don’t make the mistake of waiting till your children are older to pursue cycling as a form of exercise; there are various products on the market to help parents with small children get active on a bicycle with children in tow.
Interact with your Neighbour
Most of us know our way home, but do we really know where we live and what our neighbourhood looks like? Bike riding offers a unique opportunity to explore your neighbourhood. You’re travelling at a slower pace and are able to identify landmarks and important buildings. This is a way for your children to rely less on GPS by navigating their way home by themselves.
Join a Like-Minded Community
Once you’ve made the decision to cycle as a clan, you’ll discover various events such as those hosted by Like2Bike or the Pedal Power Association. Like2Bike specialises in promoting and organising kids cycling and running events and they also aim to nurture early cycling development and skills. Their events are aimed at 2-14-year-olds and are not connected to an adult cycling event. The Pedal Power Association founded in 1976 is a Public Benefit Organisation committed to promoting cycling and the interests of cyclists. Recreational cycling (on- and off-road), development through cycling, safe cycling and advocacy are among the PPA’s priorities.
CYCLING SAFETY TIPS FOR CHILDREN
• Your child must always wear a helmet to protect their face, head and brain if your child falls off their bike.
• Put reflective stickers on your child’s helmet and bicycle to increase visibility.
• Speak to a knowledgeable cycling consultant about choosing the right bike for your child’s height and weight.
• Ensure that your child wears bright and form-fitting clothing when cycling to increase visibility to avoid getting clothes caught in their bike chain.
• Children should never wear headphones while cycling as this minimises their hearing capacity. • Children younger than 10 years old should always ride on pavements than on main roads.