When you’re busy, fitting in time to exercise can be difficult, which is why exercising as a family is a great option. You’ll get to spend time together, while enjoying all the health benefits of being active.
Exercise can help minimise the risk of developing many common health conditions from cancer to depression.
Are you getting enough exercise?
A number of studies have shown that many people in the UK aren’t getting enough exercise.
They found that 26% of adults aged 16 and over are active for fewer than 30 minutes a week.
One study, which followed 545 individuals for eight years, found that activity levels in both sexes are already in decline by the age of six to seven. So it’s a good idea to encourage children to exercise from an early age.
Leading by example is a good way of encouraging your children to be active too.
How much exercise should your family get?
The amount of exercise you each need will depend on your age. The current NHS guidelines are as follows:
- Under 5s should avoid being sedentary as much as possible by taking part in active playtime activities. Got a toddler who can’t keep still? Bear in mind they should be active for at least three hours every day, once they have began to walk.
- Five to 18 year olds should exercise for at least 60 minutes every day and vary between moderate and vigorous activities.
- 19 to 64 year olds should do a minimum of 30 minutes moderate or vigorous exercise five times a week.
While doing moderate exercise, you should be able to talk but not sing. This includes activities like cycling, walking and skating. If you’re doing vigorous exercise, you’ll need to pause for breath after saying a few words. This typically includes activities like running and cycling hard or fast.
Why cycling is great for families
Cycling is a great form of exercise for all the family, even if you’re all at different levels. To work a little harder, you can just adjust your gears.
Simply spending time outdoors will be good for you too. Soaking up some sun rays will top up your vitamin D levels, which will help your mood and immune system.
A study last year found that 74% of children, aged 5 to 12, spend less than 60 minutes playing outside daily, which is less than the time prison inmates spend exercising outdoors.
Starting to cycle as a family
To make cycling part of your family routine, you may find it helpful to schedule a regular time when it’s suitable for everyone to get out.
This could be at the weekend, when you might have more time to go exploring on a longer ride. In the summer, you could make the most of the long days by going out in the evenings.
The National Cycle Network has many safe cycling routes throughout the country that are either free of traffic, or on quiet roads. According to the cycling charity Sustrans, over 85% of people who use the network say they feel fitter as a result.
Before you head out, make sure your bikes are in good working order and that you all have helmets.
If you need a new bike, there are many options for all the family to choose from. An electric bike is a good option for adults if you want help to cycle for longer, going up hills or just to keep up with the kids! There are also a number of bikes for children of all ages and abilities; whether you’re teaching them to ride or just trying to keep up.