7 Benefits Of Riding Bikes For Every Member Of The Family
Sure, storing them might be a total nightmare, but bicycles can be a blessing for your family’s overall fitness levels and well-being. And if you thought that bikes were only for kids, think again. In fact, every member of the family should have a bicycle. Cycling is one of the few athletic activities that everyone can engage in at the same time, and riding a bike has a whole host of health benefits.
“Bike riding can be a great form of exercise, and everyone knows that exercise of almost any sort makes us feel better both physically and psychologically,” Dr. Cara Natterson, M.D., a pediatrician and author of Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons, tells Romper. And unlike other sports that might require a ton of gear, all you need to ride a bike is a helmet, some protective gear (and a bike, obviously), and you’re ready to hit the road.
They say that you never forget how to ride a bicycle. So break out your bike and go for the ride of your life with your kids and your partner. And make sure the rest of your family have their own sets of wheels, of course. Your body (and mind) will thank you.
1. It Makes You Feel Good
Bicycling is a great way to get in some exercise. Not only does it help build muscle, but biking can also be an amazing cardio workout, too, Harvard Health reported. The benefits don’t stop there, though. “Apart from all the great physical benefits of fitness, it can improve the mood for everyone in the family," pediatrician Dr. Alison Mitzner M.D. tells Romper. “It can help you and your kids focus better, whether in school or work, and feel more mentally alert.” And if you’re looking for a natural way to boost your immune system, the exercise you get from biking can help make that happen.
2. You Get Some Vitamin D
Having a family ride not only boosts bonding, but it helps your bones, too. In fact, by being out in the sun, you’ll soak up some serious vitamin D from the sun, which is important for bone growth and health, reported the Mayo Clinic. And since vitamin D is usually found in foods like fortified milk and cereal, jumping on a bike and going for a family ride is a great way to absorb it.
3. It Gives You More Bonding Time
Of course, anything you do as a family is an opportunity for bonding. But add in a physical component, and it can take that connectedness to an entirely new level. “Family fitness benefits don’t just include the physical but the emotional and social as well,” says Dr. Mitzner. “It will motivate you and your family to disconnect [from electronics, etc.] and get moving, which will in turn strengthen your family bonds.”
4. It Sets The Pace For Your Family’s Health
It’s hard to instill healthy habits if we as parents aren’t practicing them as well. So suggesting a weekly (or even a daily early evening) bike ride can set your kids up to be healthy adults. “We are our children’s greatest role models,” advises Dr. Mitzner. “If they see you exercising, working out and staying fit, they will join in on those habits and continue them as they get older.”
5. It’s Something You Can Do As A Family
Once you’ve mastered that whole balance thing, there’s really not much to riding a bike. And that’s what makes it a fun family activity. Unlike some other sports, such as tennis, biking is something that anyone can do and isn’t an activity that is limited by size. As long as you maintain a few feet of distance between riders (which is probably a good idea at this time, anyway), you’ll all stay safe as you explore new streets and trails together.
6. It Forces You To Go Outside
Listen, if you have to choose between crashing on the couch and eating yummy snacks, or getting up, dressed, putting on helmets, and going outside, which one will probably win? Exactly. But getting out of the house (and really, out of your own head) is probably by far one of the biggest selling points of bicycle riding. “Jumping on a bike has so many mental benefits, like decreasing stress, improving sleep, and making you feel more energized,” says Dr. Mitzner. And being out in nature can have a calming effect — on everyone, as Mental Floss reported.
7. It Creates Great Memories
There’s something about a kid who’s weaving and wobbling while riding a bike that’s kind of hilarious (come on, you know it’s funny). And when you’re taking a ride together, you get to do silly stuff, like zooming through a muddy puddle that Peppa Pig would love, or speeding down a hill like Superman. Point is, biking can give you immeasurably joyful moments that you’ll remember long after you’ve hung up your helmet for the day. Says Dr. Mitzner: “It’s really a great way to strengthen that family connection and create wonderful memories at the same time.”
There are so many sports you can do as a family, and biking should be at the top of that list. Not only will your kids learn the importance of physical fitness, but the importance of family, too.
Dr. Cara Natterson, M.D., pediatrician and author of "Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons"
Dr. Alison Mitzner M.D., pediatrician