It’s not uncommon today to see young children, even toddlers on tablets or smartphones. While those devices do offer benefits such as improving motor skills and cognitive functions, they can also display negative effects. Too much screen time can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and a less sociable or less connected child. We all know everyone can benefit from regular exercise, and that most certainly applies to children as well.
Like most things in life, there needs to be a balance. Getting kids active is just as important as screen and study time. Riding a bike will help a child obtain the three main benefits of fitness; Endurance, Strength, and Flexibility.
Endurance; This develops as the child propels themselves with their feet on a bike resulting in aerobic activity. During aerobic exercise, large muscles are moving, the heart beats faster, and a person breathes harder. Aerobic activity strengthens the heart and improves the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to all its cells.
Strength; This develops as the child uses core muscles naturally to maintain balance and hold their bike upright. Lower and upper body strength is achieved as the child grips the handlebars and steers the bike in the direction they want to go. Neck and back muscles are also naturally engaged. When a child has good strength, the benefits are stronger tendons, ligaments and general joint health. All of which can help reduce the risk of injury.
Flexibility; This is easily achieved as the child simply reaches for the bike and uses muscles to straddle, holds the bike upright, and sits and leans on the bike seat. Flexibility can also help prevent injuries, reduce muscle tension, and increase blood flow to muscles.
It is recommended that toddlers and preschool children should play actively several times a day. Toddlers should get at least 60 minutes of active play every day and preschoolers should have at least 120 minutes of active play every day. This time should include planned, adult-led physical activity (PE in school systems) and active “free” play time. Riding a bike can help children achieve this goal in an exciting and fun manner with many more health benefits than just listed above, and it’s also a perfect family activity that will encourage time together.