9 reasons why your child should ride a bike
What are your fondest childhood memories? Maybe it was those brief moments looking at the stars with grandma, or stomping in puddles after a downpour, or a bike ride to the duck pond with dad. These are the personal experiences and early childhood events which leave impressions that last a lifetime.
There can be no doubt that leisure activities are critical to the development of your child. Bike riding is a great way to get your children excited about outdoor exercise from an early age. But cycling is not just fun, it is also good for the body and the soul. Why? We've collected nine compelling reasons:
1. Cycling is jogging for the brain
Physical activities like cycling have a positive effect on your children's brain. There's a very simple reason for this: during physical activity, your child's whole body, including the brain, is supplied with more oxygen-rich blood and nutrients. This enhances your child's ability to concentrate and think creatively.
But that's not all! Cycling is a kind of fertiliser for the brain. This is because physical activity stimulates the production of neurotrophins, or nerve proteins, which are released into the brain and muscles. These signaling substances not only prevent the death of existing brain cells, but also promote the formation of new nerve cells and new connections between nerve cells. This allows the nerve cells to communicate better with each other, improving your child's brain function.
2. Cycling keeps you in shape
TVs, smartphones and game consoles are major competitors for cycling and, more importantly: they are movement inhibitors. It's no secret that overeating and too little physical activity can lead to overweight or obese children. In our latitudes, child and adolescent obesity is a serious health problem. Riding a bike can effectively counteract this problem. The movement stimulates the metabolism and your child will burn more energy.
3. Bike riding prevents disease
Cycling reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Children who pedal regularly not only exercise their legs, but also their heart. This is important because the heart muscle needs training to stay strong and healthy over the long term. The movement that takes place while riding a bike gets the blood circulating. The heart is able to pump more blood through the body with every heartbeat and at the same time the heart rate decreases. In addition, the increased circulation cleans out the blood vessels by breaking down cholesterol, for instance, and thus preventing calcification of the blood vessels.
Bike riding also prevents type-2 diabetes. Exercise helps to lower blood sugar and thus prevents your child from developing diabetes at a young age.
4. Cycling toughens you up
Regular bike riding will make your child's immune system much stronger than those of less active children. The reason for this is that your child's body becomes active and produces not only more, but also stronger white blood cells and other substances in the blood. Once properly strengthened, the immune system can better fight off germs and your child will be less prone to respiratory infections.
Another positive additional effect is that your child will absorb loads of light through the skin and eyes when out in the fresh air. This boosts vitamin D production, which in turn strengthens the immune system and protects the bones from osteoporosis. What's more, light has a direct effect on hormonal balance and thus on mood. On a bright sunny day, light has an illuminance of 100,000 lux, while interior lighting offers only about 400 lux. Even on an overcast day, you can still absorb about 5,000 lux outside. So get on your bike and tank up on light!
5. Cycling promotes muscle growth
When your kids push down on the pedals, they use a lot more muscles than just the ones in their legs and feet – when steering or maintaining their balance, for instance. After just ten minutes of cycling, nearly every muscle in your child's body is well supplied with blood. This strengthens the leg, buttock and abdominal muscles, the shoulder-arm musculature, and the deeper back muscles between the vertebrae. This makes bike riding the ideal programme for counteracting the prevailing lack of exercise and to prevent back problems.
6. Cycling protects the joints
Cycling is very easy on the joints because the bike carries most of the body's weight. In addition, the circular, gentle loading and unloading results in a better supply of nutrients to the joints and the elimination of break-down products
7. Riding a bike makes you happy
We can only confirm this, of course :-). Along with the many positive effects on your child's physical health, cycling is actually good for their psyche, as well. We're sure you know from your own experience how intensely you take in your surroundings on a bike: the changing scents of nature, the seasons, the cool wind in your hair or the sun as it warms your skin. Physical activity in the open air, ideally in the countryside, increases your child's levels of happiness hormones, the best known of which are adrenaline and endorphins. They make your body feel better, provide mental satisfaction and a good mood.
8. Bicycle riding improves motor skills and sharpens the senses
Childrens' motor and sensory development is an essential foundation for the rest of their lives. Cycling teaches your child to combine different motor skills quickly and in a playful way: the sense of balance, steering, pedaling, looking around, orientation and reaction.
Cycling also sensitises perception. Children discover and explore the world through their senses – that is, by absorbing stimuli from the environment through their various sensory channels and processing that input in the brain. Cycling promotes your child's sensory perception in a wide range of aspects. Firstly, a good sense of balance is fundamental to being able to handle a bicycle at all. On the way to kindergarten, your child learns to watch and listen carefully in order to assess traffic hazards, for instance. During bike rides, children discover the many sounds, smells and colours of nature.
9. Cycling is freedom and creates a connection
Just hop on the saddle and out into the fresh air! No matter where you go, a bike lets your child cover long distances from an early age. In practically every season of the year, the bike is a kid's faithful companion, whether in the forest, through the park or to the public swimming pool. Being mobile gives your child a huge amount of independence and personal freedom.
Social contacts are important for your children's emotional development. Sport brings people together – this is not a novel idea, and it applies to all ages. Children who brave the wind and weather on bikes with friends quickly establish a bond.