We are moving less and eating more and our children are leading a more sedentary lifestyle we are told. Cycling however, is the third most popular recreational activity in the UK. Around 3.1 million people ride a bicycle each month.
Cycling has a broad appeal. From toddlers to pensioners, able bodied or those with disabilities can all enjoy cycling with the right bike. Because it’s a form of transport it is easy to fit into daily life and contributes to those recommended minutes of exercise we should do each day. Further, it saves you money and has a positive effect on the environment.
The nature of cycling means that the impact on the body is low so it is easier on joints than some other higher impact forms of exercise. This does not impact on its ability to improve overall fitness and cardiovascular fitness when performed at the right intensity. It can also have mental benefits too as it is reported to help in the building of new cells in the area of the brain responsible for memory, which deteriorates from the age of 30. Cycling can also boost the immune system by making the cells more active so that they are ready to fight off infection. So if you could cycle to work twice a week with a longer ride at the weekend you would soon see and feel the health benefits. It’s also a great way to prepare for work on the way and relax on the way home from work so there are mental benefits as well as physical.
Government research states that over 1 in 5 children in the UK start school overweight and that obesity will soon overtake smoking as the leading health problem in the UK. Furthermore, it is estimated that over half of all children will be classified ‘obese’ by 2020 which means that encouraging children to be more active is vital.
Benefits of cycling for children
Regular exercise as a child means they are more likely to exercise as an adult – and enjoy it
Through exercise children maintain a healthy bodyweight and attitude
Children need to exercise for healthy bones, joints and muscles it also helps improve motor coordination and enhances the development of various motor skills
Exercise develops interpersonal skills; teamwork and learning they don’t always win
Moving in the day helps children to sleep longer and better
Exercise can even help with achieving better school attendance and achieve more in the class because of alertness and the better sleep they are getting. It also improves the executive function of the brain, which is the ability to focus on and retain important information as well as filtering out distractions
Exercising in children can promote a great self-esteem and body awareness
Active children report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression and a better overall mood. We have all seen them sitting slumped watching television and see them jump into life when playing in the garden or going for a bike ride is suggested. So, encourage your children to move more see [ ] of how to.