February is American Heart Month, a federally designated event that is meant to remind Americans to focus on their heart health. It is also, thanks to Valentine’s Day, a month of love, when we take extra care to show people in our lives love through special gifts and time spent together. What better time to showcase all the ways that riding a bike takes care of the heart?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Whoa. No wonder there is a whole month dedicated to reminding people how to take better care of their hearts! It turns out riding a bike is one of the best ways to do that. Riding your bike regularly stimulates and improves your heart, lungs and circulation, and reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2016 study in the journal Circulation found that biking, even as little as a half-hour a week, was linked to lower rates of heart disease. Most people who ride love it so much, they are on their bike much more than that, and that makes for a happy heart.
All kinds of exercise are good for the heart, but riding a bike is an activity that you can start as a toddler and continue through adulthood. It allows you to travel farther and faster than jogging or walking and puts less strain on joints. It can give both children and older adults a sense of freedom, and it’s great for the environment. The enjoyment of riding a bike is sparked in very young children as a way to have fun, be with friends, create memories, and go on adventures. If research indicates that inactive children are likely to become inactive adults, then the flip is also true, active kids become active adults, and active adults have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Getting kids on bikes sets them up for a healthy life.
The heart isn’t just known for pumping and filtering, it is the metaphorical center for feeling love. Part of a healthy, happy life is loving and being loved. With more children and young adults struggling with depression and feeling isolated, this function of the heart is also of utter importance. Riding a bike is yet another way to take care of the more tender aspects of heart health.
Riding a bike is a great way to bond with friends, family, and yourself. The gift of time is one of the greatest gestures of love. While it might be hard to find activities that parents can share with children, biking is nondiscriminatory and is enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. It is also a way for kids to spend time with their friends and even their siblings. The movement and togetherness help boost mood and energy levels, which makes hearts more open and receptive to love – in all its many forms.
All you have to do is watch a group of children riding or learning to ride a bike to understand the power of comradery and love. High fives, laughter, cheering, encouragement, and wide smiles are the backdrop of kids on bikes. We see it every day in the schools that have started our Kindergarten PE Program. It doesn’t just make kids’ hearts full, but any adult who witnesses it. We dare you not to choke up when watching a kiddo pedal for the first time – eyes wide, face beaming, pride palpable – with their friends cheering wildly at their side. It makes everyone’s heart feel fuller and grow stronger. The All Kids Bike Kindergarten PE Program aims to give every child in America the imperative benefits of a healthy heart that riding a bike provides. In honor of big, happy, full, healthy hearts, check out how you can bring All Kids Bike Kindergarten PE Program to a school in your area.