Riding a bicycle rocks! There are lots of great reasons, other than good old-fashioned fun, to do it. The physical benefits of riding a bike are plentiful and lead to a higher quality of life. And it doesn’t stop there. Bicycling is becoming known for its positive impact on emotional wellness. We all want the children in our lives to be happy and healthy, but often the latter becomes our primary focus. Happiness is not incidental. Your outlook, how you feel about yourself and the world, is just as important as building strength and getting your heart pumping. In fact, according to several scientific studies, mental health is a stronger predictor of life expectancy than physical health or even heavy smoking. Let that sink in.
Over that last couple of decades, mental diagnoses in children have been on a steady incline. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.1 percent of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety, and 3.2 percent of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 1.9 million) have diagnosed depression. All Kids Bike wants to help send those statistics plummeting!
Those of us who ride bikes regularly already know that it makes us feel amazing, and now science confirms it. In 2018, the Lancet released its findings from the first and largest study of its kind on the association between exercise and mental health burden. SPOILER ALERT! The study concluded that whether it is inside or out, riding a bike was named one of the top two activities MOST beneficial for emotional wellness.
The study analyzed the exercise and mental health of 1,237,194 adults over three years. The participants reported the type of exercise they did, how much they exercised, and how many days they experienced stress, depression, or other emotional strain. While all exercise improved overall mental health, not all exercise was equally protective. Riding a bike came in as the second most protective activity with riders reporting 21.6 percent fewer difficult mental health days. Playing a team sport was the most effective, and researchers concluded it was due to social interaction. Want to amplify the positive effects of a bike ride? Invite a friend! This study confirms what most lovers of two wheels already knew; a few buddies and a bike make for a happier life.
Scientific jargon aside, we believe in the power of riding a bike. We also want to rally behind and support our youth to ensure we are doing what we can to help keep them well – physically AND emotionally. One day, these very children will become leaders in our world.
That’s why we know our mission to teach every child in America how to ride a bike in kindergarten PE class is no small act. When it comes to helping children deal with anxiety, depression, and stress and improving how they feel about themselves and the world around them, part of the solution might be as simple as riding a bike. And, once they learn, they’ll be able to ride and be happy well into their advanced years. That’s a cause worth supporting. Learn more about how you can get involved HERE.