Initiating the Cycle of Fitness

by Angela Yorke | July 30th, 2012 | Biking, Family Fitness

Cycling is an activity that is easy to maintain if you do it alone or with a fellow enthusiast. Conversely, sustaining this fitness habit may appear more challenging when you have young ones in tow.

The easy solution would be to leave the kids out of it entirely until they’re old enough to ride a bike unaccompanied. On the other hand, they may be uninterested in going on family bike rides at this age, or they may abhor the idea of fitness altogether.

Cycling can be introduced to a young family as early as when a baby is able to sit up on his or her own. At this age, children can be towed in a purpose-built trailer or child seat. Needless to say, rides should be taken on routes that are quieter, and the duration of a ride, i.e., from one stop to another, should not exceed the period during which children can sit and play happily without getting bored.

Older children, for example those who are 4 or 5 years of age, will want to do more than sit passively in the trailer or child seat. To this end, try using a trailer cycle or a tandem bike with a child-stoker kit. Both seat the child in the back, although there may be cadence and handling issues with the former, while the latter provides the option of adjusting the height of the pedals so that the child can keep up with the activity.

Whichever option used, adults and children can embark on a bike ride together; children will learn about the intricacies and etiquette of cycling, and there is no fear that a slower cyclist(s) will be left behind.

Longer bike rides become possible once children are able to ride on their own. Even then, that’s not to say they should be allowed out entirely unaccompanied. Ideally, one parent should lead and another follow behind the children to ensure safety. One-parent bike rides are also possible, although it’d be better for the parent to follow, as this would make it easier to keep an eye on the child.

When attempting to instill a love of cycling, aim to make the experience enjoyable for everyone and worry less about ultra-far and/or difficult routes. After all, it’s nearly impossible to get someone to look forward to their next bike ride when they had to push their bike up a steep, tall hill on the last one.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.