Bike riding is a rite of passage for kids, and it is an activity that is good for both their physical and mental health. Cycling offers a range of developmental benefits for typical and atypically developing children. Hiding behind a few bumps and bruises that may occur is when learning to ride a bike is a world of independence, confidence, and newfound physical and mental strength.
Biking helps increase gross motor skills, coordination, strength, and balance. These skills transfer into other daily occupations, and the child often enjoys more success in sports and activities at home and school. Additionally, this fun exercise for teens and kids builds bone density, cardiovascular stamina, lung capacity, and leg strength.
Zier Institute offers Bike Intensives to help children learn how to ride a bike confidently with our occupational therapists’ help. In this fun summertime activity for kids, we not only focus on the mechanics of bike riding but also safety, visuospatial skills, and spatial awareness. Please complete this INQUIRY FORM, and we will contact you to schedule an intensive.
It’s a joy to witness kids and teens unlock the confidence buried within to feel the accomplishment of mastering bike riding — a skill that stays with children for a lifetime.
We’ve narrowed the long list of health benefits of bike riding down to six:
1. Kids won’t do it if it’s not fun — fortunately, bike riding is!
We live in a neighborhood where it’s common to see pairs or small groups of kids of various ages riding bikes (or scooters) together. It’s a sure sign of spring and signals that summer is coming. It’s a safe bet that they are not meeting on the corner to get some exercise but rather enjoy age-appropriate independence, time with their friends, and connection. (C’mon now, you knew we couldn’t make it through an entire blog without mentioning the importance of social skills and connection). Riding a bike to a friend’s house, to a nearby school or park is a simple activity that is fun and rewarding.
Once you purchase the bike for your child, these become free activities for them to enjoy with friends and family.
2. Pay attention – cycling increases focus.
Endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are some of the neurotransmitters released when we exercise. These brain chemicals play a vital part in mood regulation mood and therefore make it easier to focus. Furthermore, children pay closer attention and focus on the directions with heightened interest when a potential fall is possible.
3. Riding a bike to school gets you ready to learn.
Research shows that kids who ride bikes to school arrive more focused than peers who are driven. If you live close enough to a school to consider doing so, starting your child’s day with activity primes them for the learning ahead. Bike riding promotes your child’s learning development as a full-body sensory activity that includes visual stimulation. Additionally, learning to ride a bike allows children a chance to practice communication skills — asking for help, listening to directions, and celebrating success.
4. Resilient families ride together.
Families who bond through activities and shared interests are families who can handle bumps in the road when they occur. What better way to learn than to cycle as a family? Cycling together is just one of many outdoor sports that families can do to bring them closer together. It’s a favorite because every age can be involved, from little ones with training wheels to having grandparents join the journey. It’s less about the activity and more about the relationship, and yes — connection.
5. Green looks good on you.
The environment is essential to all of us, but our children learn about it at younger ages than ever. Aside from our own two feet, biking is the most accessible form of environmentally friendly transportation. Lead by example when possible and bike places together when you can. Reinforce lessons about the climate and environment by teaching kids that bike riding benefits both their health and our earth’s health. This provides them with two compelling reasons to keep riding throughout their life.
6. Safety matters!
Parents do all they can to keep their children safe. Bike riding is an activity that introduces an opportunity for their participation in keeping themselves safe as they explore independence. Helmets, kneepads, reflectors, lights, and bells are some of the safety equipment items that can help protect them. Coupled with spatial and stranger awareness, children and teens can feel protected as they begin a two-wheeled journey.
Falling or crashes is a risk when riding a bike, particularly in the beginning. Understanding what steps should be taken to protect yourself, reduce risk, and minimize injury is a vital bike riding lesson that transfers to other uncertain or uncomfortable areas of life.
Grab your helmet and pedal on!