Why is learning to ride a bike important for kids?
Riding a bike is considered a key developmental milestone for children at the age of 5. By this time, they are developing the balance and coordination of skills necessary to successfully combine all aspects of riding a bike and pedaling.
Kids are not getting outside
Gone are the days when most kids spent their days in active play outside. Computers, smartphones, television shows and video games have taken over as the dominant source of stimulation and interest for kids. This leads to sedentary lifestyles.
Childhood obesity is on the rise. More than one third of children and adolescents of all abilities are overweight. This can lead to a lifetime of health risks, as well as immediate healthrelated problems. Getting outside also helps boost a child’s mood. A Care.com article shared recent research finding that Physically Active Kids Are Less Depressed.
Only the development of healthy lifestyle habits can change this. Bicycling is fun, accessible, inclusive and a healthy activity that can be enjoyed by families, young and old alike.
Kids riding bikes is declining
Unfortunately, the number of children riding bicycles declined by more than 20% between 2000 and 2010, even as the number of children in this country increased by 3%. (Gluskin Townley Group, 2011 - The American Bicyclist Study)
Bicycling has declined as an activity for kids. Between 2007 and 2016, the percentage of youth ages 6-17 riding bicycles decreased nearly 7% (from 30.9% to 24.2%). (2016 Outdoor Industry Association’s Outdoor Participation Study. Pg. 32).
Beyond the exercise benefits, the source of freedom and transportation, and the social aspect of riding are also lost with this decline.
Enough of the bad news
What can you do, as a parent, relative, child care provider or friend of someone with a small child, to encourage them to get outside and ride?
1. Start young
Children as young as 18 months can ride a Strider Balance Bike independently, but even a one year old can grab the handlebars and rock on the Strider Rocking Base. Many kids who start on a balance bike transition to a pedal bike by age 3 or 4, usually without training wheels.
2. Make it a family affair
Kids model adult behaviors, so if you’re active, your child is more likely to be active. If you haven’t ridden your bike in a while, dust it off, get a tune up, and ride with your child. Or just walk/run alongside your child. Think of the adventures you can take and discoveries you can make, even down the street or around a local park. Bring along four-legged family members, they need exercise as well!
3. Get them around kids who ride
Are the friends of your kids active and interested in the outside? Join a park play group or find a neighbor whose just as committed as you to helping your child develop a healthy lifestyle. Or, be a leader in your child’s play group and suggest outdoor activities for your child’s friends.
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