In today’s fast world where there are so many activities to do and to choose from the family spends less time staying and playing together as a family unit. What better way for the whole family to spend time together having fun, enjoying each other’s company, feeling nature’s fresh free air blowing on your faces while pedaling together. Biking is an activity that the family can do year round. It is an activity that gives much needed exercise as well as bonding together as a family.
Riding bikes together is fun because it provides physical and social benefits. Imagine feeling the cool breeze blowing over your body, especially on your faces as the whole family pedals together along the path. You can hear the birds chirping, the leaves rustling and all the different smells provided by nature. These are experiences often missed during hectic times, such as commuting to school and work. Biking is a great way to fit exercise in your lifestyle. It provides social and physical benefits, a sense of well being to each member of the family.
Did you know that exercising relieves stress and gives you a greater sense of energy? Read what the Associate Professor in the Dept. of Kinesiology and Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin said. “There’s some evidence that the social aspect of engaging in physical exercise enhances those psychological effects, especially when it is done in pleasant surroundings. So if you you’re looking to get some exercise and tap into those social benefits, biking, with your family is a great way to do it.” There is the proof to the question. Exercise relieves stress and gives you a sense of energy.
It is important to make sure everyone has a proper fitting, well-tuned bike with properly inflated tires and working brakes before you embark on your bike ride. For younger kids, it’s important to have the right sized bike. The bike must not be too big to keep them from losing control when steering. Make sure the little ones can sit and touch the ground with both balls of both feet.
The type of bike chosen is also important to give stability and ease of riding. Hybrid bikes with tires half as thick as those mountain bikes are a good choice for terrain ranging from city streets to state parks. Helmets are a must for both adults and children. So often, I observe a few parents/adults riding without a helmet. This is not a good example to set for your children. Remember that you are your children’s role model.
Another very important reason, “the chances of falling off and getting a skull fracture are just as high around your neighborhood as on a bike path or road,” said Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of sports medicine program at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, in Norfolk, Virginia. “Parents need to be good role models about that. It’s just like wearing your seat belt.”
There are many options available for making younger children a participant of the bike outing. There are extender poles that connect a parent’s bike to a child’s, to extender bikes that have one tire, a seat, pedals and handle bars. There are also trailers that can carry two children, and infant/toddler bike seats that fit on the back of an adult’s seat.
(Experts recommend doing some research on-line, then going to a reputable bike shop to check them out.)
It is just as important that children should not ride in any of these bike accessories until they can hold their heads up (usually after age one). This precaution will prevent neck injury. Bouncing around in a trailer can also be very uncomfortable for toddlers, so choose a smooth road so you can enjoy your trip.
How To Ride
If there are two adults in the household, one should ride in the front and the other in the back. If there is only one adult it is better to ride in the back close enough to coach the kids. Each biker should have its own water bottle in a holder, and the adult’s bike should be equipped with spare tires. It is also a great idea to wear a backpack or fanny-pack with identification. Carry some money, snacks and a cell phone with you.
Before you head out, learn or memorize hand signals and practice them while riding single file in your neighborhood. If there are designated bike routes, chose one of them. Some parks have lanes for bikes and pedestrians. Rail trails and parks may not always have bike only lanes strictly for bike only, but they provide car free routes for cyclists.
When you begin to ride start out slowly. Brenner said, “Don’t go from no biking to biking for an hour and a half to get injured. Your family won’t enjoy it; your plan to get exercise will be sabotaged. Even though it is fun, biking requires rest afterward for normal muscle recovery.” It goes without saying, do a little everyday to improve your health and fitness. This can make a big difference. With chronic illnesses and childhood obesity on the rise, biking is one of the alternatives to reverse unhealthy trends for you and your children. Remember that you are your children’s role model.
Another very important reason, the chances of falling and getting a skull fracture are just as high around your neighborhood as on a bike path or road,” says Dr Joel Brenner, medical director of sports medicine program at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, in Norfolk Virginia.” Parents need to be good role models about that. It’s just like wearing your seat belt.”
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