Why on earth would we have days devoted to riding a bike?
When asking this question, perhaps we should turn to one of Australia’s best known cyclist Cadel Evans for the answers (Live Better 2016).
- It’s pure and simple fun
Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that are the most rewarding. Learning to ride a bike is one of them. Once your child has a bike, cycling is a fun and free activity that they can enjoy with friends and family for life. As President John F Kennedy famously said, “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
- It keeps kids physically active
The Australian Guidelines for Health recommend that children should engage in at least one hour of vigorous physical activity every day to stay healthy. However, according to The Heart Foundation, as many as 80% of Australian children aren’t meeting these guidelines. Encouraging your child to ride a bike while they’re young helps to establish healthy exercise habits that are likely to stay with them for life.
- It benefits kids’ mental health and learning
Riding a bike not only improves physical fitness, it also benefits your child’s learning development and mental health. Research shows that students who ride a bike to school are more focused and ready to learn, compared with those who are driven. Taking part in regular physical activity also has links to increase happiness, as well as giving kids more opportunities to make social connections.
- It’s something the whole family can enjoy together
Cycling is an activity that all ages can enjoy. Mums, dads, kids, and even grandparents can take part in a family bike ride. It’s a great way to share some quality time, and it’s good for you too. Remember, the key to family bike rides is to have fun. So start slowly and take plenty of breaks to give little riders time to rest.
- It’s good for the environment
Teaching your child to ride a bike has long-term benefits for the environment. Using active transport like cycling instead of driving reduces carbon emissions, eases traffic congestion and eliminates parking problems. Less pollution and traffic mean our communities will become greener, healthier and less stressful places to live.
- It’s a great way to get around
Cadel describes bikes as “the perfect vehicle for transport.” And he’s right. Once your child gets older, riding a bike becomes a quick and healthy way for them to get to and from school, sporting and play activities. Even better, it saves you time because your child won’t have to rely on you for lifts. Now that’s a benefit every parent can relate to!
Jill Mays (The Motor Story 2014) adds weight to Cadel’s encouragement to ride bikes with further benefits for children’s sensorimotor development.
- Develops balance.
- Great cardiovascular and body strengthener.
- The speed provides vestibular stimulation.
- Bumpy roads and pumping up hills activate the proprioceptors (brain organizers).
- Falls especially activate proprioceptors and increase body awareness so there is an up side to these little dramas.
- Children learn to operate the bike (pumping) while balancing, while steering, while regulating the speed. This motor integration helps build motor planning ability.
Since both hands simultaneously hold the handlebars and steer while the legs push and lift up on the pedal, bilateral motor coordination is enhanced.Despite these very clear and positive reasons for bike riding, the truth of the matter is that while the number of children in the population is increasing, those riding a bicycle are decreasing (Outdoor Participation Report 2016, Taylor G. 2017). Reasons range from parental concern for child safety and the associated lack of parental supervision time, through to participation in non-physical activities (a trend in our current times) at the expense of those more beneficial activities.As a school we cannot replace the time and effort that a parent could devote to their child’s relationship with bike riding. However, we feel strongly enough about the benefits of bike riding across a range of domains that we are prepared to devote at least 2 days each year to a whole class bike ride (Kinder to Year 6). The school provides specific bike storage for those riding to school, and in a chosen term, a ride to school bike club is conducted led by a teacher.So in the nicest possible way, “Get on your bike.”
This is the last of our class activities. Where to now? Book a tour?