Sunday, October 21, 2012

Five Health Benefits of Owning a Bicycle

Bicycling is a treasured child pastime for most adults, but many parents may not realize that bicycling isn’t just fun; it’s also beneficial. Biking can reduce your child’s risk of obesity, improve overall health and help her develop sports and fitness skills. Here are some of the benefits your child may experience after getting her first bike.

Better Brain Development

Physical activities force the brain to develop new neural pathways, improving cognitive functioning. Even better, the muscle memory your child masters through bicycling will help her establish brain connections that will also make it easier for her to master unrelated sports.

Finally, bicycling requires planning. From listing the bicycle gear she needs to mapping out her daily bike route, your child will master spatial reasoning and advanced planning skills, both of which improve cognitive development.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular exercise is exercise that elevates your heart rate and works large muscle groups. This type of exercise can burn off lots of calories, reducing your child’s risk of obesity. It also improves circulation and lowers blood pressure.
If heart disease runs in your family, biking could be your child’s answer for preventing future problems. Cardiovascular exercise also improves endurance, and for particularly rambunctious kids, it can help burn off excessive energy.

Increased Strength

In addition to the cardiovascular exercise your child gets from biking, she’s also strengthening her leg, hip, arm and abdominal muscles. Strong muscles promote good overall health, decrease your child’s risk of obesity and can help her perform well in other sports.

People with strong, well-developed muscles are also at a reduced risk of exercise-related injuries and suffer from less pain. Moreover, a strong child is a child with good self-esteem, who feels confident around her peers and who can quickly escape or defend herself if she’s ever faced with a threat.

Bike for Improved Mental Health

Physical activity is correlated with better mental health. In fact, some research indicates that regular exercise is as effective at treating depression as medication. If your child struggles with depression, low self esteem or anxiety, bicycling could be the solution to a happier, healthier outlook.

Regular exercise releases powerful endorphins that can help your child feel better about life. And, of course, when your child feels better, life with her is easier and you’ll feel better too.

Better Sleep

Regular exercise is strongly correlated with healthy sleep patterns. If your child is a ball of energy who can’t sleep but who then struggles to get up every morning, bicycling may be your ticket to a healthier, more regular sleep schedule. Better sleep, in turn, is correlated with better overall health and can even improve mental health.

Perhaps most importantly, biking is fun! A variety of studies have demonstrated that play is vital for a child’s development. While she may seem to be biking like a maniac, she’s actually learning.

Regular leisure activities benefit your child and you in a variety of ways, so don’t hesitate to get your child that much-coveted perfect bike! Remember that, no matter how much fun biking is, it does pose some dangers, so don’t allow your child to bike alone, and always ensure she wears a helmet. The brain benefits of a bike won’t count for much if your child gets a head injury.

Christobel Edwards became a grandmother two and a half years ago for the first time. Although keeping quiet is difficult for this marketing maven, she’s learning to let her child and grandchild make their own decisions. She loves buying things for her grandchild and can’t wait to buy her her first bike.

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