National survey of parents reveals the mental health benefits of cycling for Bikeability trainees

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With the mental wellbeing of children high on the UK’s agenda, a survey by The Bikeability Trust, the national charity for Bikeability, reveals more than a of third of parents (37%) say their child feels less stressed and more relaxed from cycling together with their family.

The survey (Bikeability Parents Survey, 1,000 participants, May 2019) was commissioned as part of The Bikeability Trust’s new campaign, Our Bikes Our Adventure, which hopes to encourage families to put their Bikeability skills into practice over summer and have fun exploring the great outdoors together as a family on their bikes. The Our Bikes Our Adventure campaign launch coincides with National Bike Week, taking place from 8-16 June 2019.

Insight from the Mental Health Foundation shows that mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people. The Foundation lists regular exercise, having the time and freedom to play outdoors and being part of a family that gets along most of the time as some of the things that can keep children mentally well.

As well as recognising the importance of cycling and spending time outdoors on their child’s mental health, The Bikeability Trust’s survey also revealed that 71% of parents whose child has completed their Bikeability courses agree that the training has encouraged their family to cycle together more.

THE POSITIVE BENEFITS OF CYCLING AS A FAMILY

The Bikeability Trust’s survey reveals that;

  • Three fifths (60%) of parents say that cycling as a family makes their child happy,
  • 47% of parents say that cycling as a family makes their child physically fitter and stronger,
  • 37% say their child feels less stressed and more relaxed after cycling as a family.

The survey shows that cycling, and more specifically cycling together as a family, has a positive impact on a child’s health and wellbeing. The survey also reveals that more families enjoy cycling together if their children have been through Bikeability training. Over two thirds (67%) of parents whose children have done Bikeability training say that cycling with their children is their favourite family activity, compared with just over a fifth (22%) of those whose children have not done Bikeability training.

Commenting on the findings, Sarah Swire, a Bikeability instructor said; “Enjoying a family bike ride is an easy way for parents to help improve their child’s mental health, with open green spaces, woodland and traffic-free cycle routes all over the country. Being outdoors and spending time together as a family is a great way to reduces stress, increase alertness, instil a sense of freedom and take in fresh air.

“Bikeability training gives families the confidence to go out cycling together, happy in the knowledge that their children have the skills and capability to tackle anything that comes their way. In turn, this confidence encourages children to start cycling young, creating a habit they will carry through for generations to come.”

The survey also highlighted the other benefits that parents see their children reaping from cycling regularly;

  • 63% of parents think cycling is an easy way to increase their child’s physical activity levels,
  • 60% of parents enjoy cycling as a family knowing that they spend quality time together outdoors,
  • Nearly 45% of those surveyed stating the sense of freedom and adventure is what they enjoy most about cycling as a family.

“We love cycling together as a family because it’s a great way to get some fresh air and exercise, enjoy the sense of freedom and adventure and spend quality time together. Since my child has been through Bikeability training, I have noticed him spending more time outdoors and enjoying their cycling much more.”

Moti Tabulo, whose child has been through Bikeability training

The Bikeability Trust’s Our Bikes Our Adventure campaign will put family time first this summer, encouraging parents and children to grab their bikes and explore the best of England together. Families can find lots of useful content on the Bikeability website to help them put their Bikeability skills into practice, have fun and experience the great outdoors together, including ‘Top tips for planning a successful family cycle ride‘ and ‘11 of the best places to cycle in England‘.

Bikeability is the UK government’s cycle education programme, underpinned by the National Standard for cycle training; a set of principles for better and safer cycling. Bikeability is an improved, updated and more relevant version of the old cycling proficiency scheme, delivered by professional instructors throughout England.

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