For most parents, Mountain Biking sounds like a dangerous sport to get your kids involved in.
After the process involved with learning how to ride a bike in the first place, it can seem like overkill to want to throw them out on a Mountain Bike trail.
And while I can empathize with those parents on their initial thoughts, there is more than enough reasons to introduce your kids to Mountain Biking.
For those looking to for the final push to get them started, or even those who condemn the sport entirely, here are 14 reasons why Mountain Biking is great for kids.
1. Mountain Biking is a Great Hobby
To start things off, you should always encourage your kids to have a Hobby, or some extracurricular activity that promotes creativity and skill-based learning.
Mountain Biking is the perfect activity for this, as your child is not only outside and having a blast, they are also learning the importance of patience and practice.
This is not something you can say about videogames and social media.
In the world today, children are spending more and more time behind screens, as opposed to getting involved in activities such as sports or hobbies.
And you thought it was hard parenting in the age of the TV, todays parents are having to contend with and mitigate mobile devices like tablets and phones.
In fact, a study by CommonSenseMedia found kids overall mobile usage increased from 5 minutes per day in 2011, all the way to 48 minutes per day by 2017. This number is way higher today, with BBC finding that the average child, age 6 to 16, spends 6 and a half hours in front a screen per day.
And if you take a look at the HHS.gov statistics on the average day in the life of a high school teen, you will see that adolescents are prioritizing screen time over hobbies and exercise by quite the margin.
Introducing your child to a productive hobby is a great way to shift the balance back in favor of successful development, with more focus on the time that will help your child develop the qualities needed for success in life.
Among the many benefits that a hobby brings, like lower stress levels and higher self-esteem, a 1995 study for the US Department of Health and Human Services summarized this type of activity with the following quote:
“Participating in positive, goal-directed activities gives teenagers a chance to develop skills, build character, and sample different fields of human endeavor.”
“the effectiveness of an activity depends not just on the degree to which it occupies idle time, but also on the extent to which it develops skills, creates challenges, and provides fulfilling experiences”
If there was ever a motto for Mountain Biking, the above statement would be a close contender. Your child will most definitely learn to develop skills with all the challenges of Mountain Biking. And with the opportunity to see the most beautiful scenery with the best friends they have, there will be few more fulfilling experiences than that of Mountain Biking.
For more reasons why Mountain Biking is a great hobby, keep reading below.
2. Get Them Outside
One of the benefits of Mountain Biking, is that it forces you to get outside.
With today’s kids spending a daily average of 7 hours behind a screen, they are also not getting the time they need outside.
A report from the National Wildlife Federation confirmed that only a quarter of children play outside daily, where this number was closer to three quarters just a generation ago.
That is quite an alarming drop, considering how important daily outside play is to a child’s development.
Even more alarming is the fact that children only devote 2 to 7 minutes to outside play when they’re outdoors.
And all this time indoors is not too productive when majority of it is being spent in front of a screen.
Among many factors, the time kids are spending indoors has attributed to many negative effects like, increased cases of ADHD, Childhood Obesity and the need for prescription antidepressants for pediatric patients.
On the flip side, this same study provided the overwhelming benefits of daily outdoor activity, something Mountain Bikers get more than enough of.
Some of those benefits are:
1. Better School Performance –
The creative outlet and the fact that outdoor play promotes physical fitness, children who play outdoors will often experience better performance in school. In fact, of the 2000 educators surveyed in NWF’s 2010 study, 78 percent reported better performance and concentration from the students who regularly engaged in outdoor activities.
2. More Creativity –
That same survey of 2000 educators found that 75 percent reported better creativity and problem-solving skills in students who played outside regularly. Couple this with the creativity and problem solving that comes with Mountain Biking and you have a really productive experience.
3. Higher Fitness Levels –
Outdoor play is also associated with higher levels of physical fitness. Unlike indoor activities, which can often be completed in a chair or sitting down, outdoor play almost always requires movement. This is the one benefit that supports many others but is often overlooked since riding a bike is viewed as more of a fun activity than as exercise. Mountain Biking not only helps your child develop cardiovascular fitness, they will also learn superior control over their bodies and instincts.
4. More Friends –
Children who spend more time outdoors, are more likely to develop and retain friendship with the people they encounter. Kids who regularly play outside, often play at parks and playground where they must interact and cooperate with other kids. This is no different than a Mountain Bike trail or park, where your child is destined to meet friends interested in the same sport.
5. Less Depression and Hyperactivity –
Spending time outdoors has frequently been associated with lower stress levels and improved thinking. Nature is a great place to relax and is essential for everyone. On top of that, outside play also sees kids focus more on one task at a time, where screens promote a less focused attention span.
6. Longer Life Span and Healthier Adult Life –
Finally, kids who spend more time outdoors often led longer and healthier lives. This is due to the benefits of physical activity, even including the benefits from the Sun like Vitamin D.
Although Mountain Biking helps build fitness, one of the best benefits is that it requires that you get outside.
3. Teach Appreciation for Nature and Outdoors
Coming from the benefits of Outdoor activities, your child will also learn to appreciate Nature and the Outdoors as they Mountain Bike.
Along with the thrill of riding through Mountain Bike trails at breakneck speeds, most trails weave through some of the most beautiful scenery the country has to offer.
I can attest to this myself. I once thought Mountain Biking was all about the thrill of riding fast and loose, however, I have come to respect the environment and scenery I get the chance to experience.
Its no surprise then that many Mountain Bikers have a bucket list of trails they would like to visit, just based on the environment and scenery alone.
In addition to the scenery, Mountain Bikers also get accustomed to the varying terrain and conditions every region has, even developing a preference for what they like to ride.
Your child will learn about the different types of dirt and rock, as they will inevitably have an effect on their riding.
Even if they’re not actively seeking to learn about the environment, it will happen over time. And the more you learn about a particular thing, the more you will come to appreciate it.
Lastly, Mountain Bikers also work to preserve the environment around them.
And I know this may seem counter intuitive since we are riding machines through trails that are often man made, however, Mountain Biking does not typically damage any existing trail or environment.
In fact, as Mountain Bikers, part of our duty is preserving the trails that volunteers make for our enjoyment.
As hard as it can be to not ride, we don’t ride when its too muddy and we don’t break or damage the features.
4. Good Exercise
As we mentioned before, kids are spending too much time behind screens and missing out on some of the activities they need to lead a healthy life.
One of the main things our kids need, is exercise.
And reports show that the average child doesn’t even meet the required 60 minutes of physical activity recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
In addition to unhealthy diets, the lack of exercise has also led to the doubling of Childhood Obesity rates in the last 20 years.
Encouraging your child to get outside and ride their bike is one of the easiest ways to introduce exercise in their daily routine.
Biking engages two of the largest muscle groups in your body, the Glutes and the Quadriceps.
In addition to all of their leg muscles, your child will also strengthen their core and upper body as they learn to balance better on the bike.
And best of all, they are having way too much fun to realize that what they’re doing can be considered exercise.
Take things further when you introduce your child to Mountain Biking and all of the exercise benefits are exaggerated.
All of a sudden, they are using more muscle groups and in ways they never have before. In the process, they learn superior body control and quick thinking.
Their cardiovascular fitness will increase a lot faster than standard exercise, as Mountain Biking often requires brief sprints of effort or control.
Climbing steep hills, controlling your bike on a rock bed and flying over jumps all require a higher level of fitness than the average person.
5. Teaches Patience and Consistency
Once you finally learn how to ride a bike, it becomes fairly easy from there.
That is not the case with Mountain Biking.
Once your child starts to develop a knack for Mountain Biking, they will want to start to push their limits.
This is exaggerated if they are riding with friends, since competition is a natural motivator.
And if you’re looking for a good way to introduce challenge in your child’s life, Mountain Biking is the perfect outlet.
They will have to consistently practice getting better on the bike.
And not just mindless fun, it takes dedication and focus to really develop the skills needed to get the most out of a Mountain Bike trail.
Whether they’re building their strength to climb a hill or taking on the scary step of their first jump, your child will definitely be working towards something.
And even though Mountain Biking seems like more fun than challenging, your child will still benefit from their consistent efforts.
6. Great for The Whole Family
Like I mentioned before, Mountain Biking will give you the opportunity to see places you never thought you would.
From beautiful alpine mountainside, to the tacky dust of Utah, there is always an opportunity to see the best parts of the country.
And this can easily be extended to more than just one person in the family.
Especially with the recent popularity of e-bikes, it is easier than ever to get the whole family out for a bike ride.
Believe it or not, Mountain Biking is not as dangerous as you think.
And with a little bit a practice, you could be trail ready before you know it.
That is one of the great things about Mountain Bike trails – its just as easy to take your own pace as it is to go fast.
Everything depends on your own fitness level and how fast you are comfortable riding.
And what could be better than engaging in a fun and adventurous activity with the whole family?
There are few people on this earth who don’t feel the thrill and joy it is to ride a bike.
And if your family really takes to riding, it would be a good time to visit some great destinations like the ones listed in National Geographic’s List of Mountain Bike Towns.
7. Experience Real Adventure
As children, we are absolutely enamored with the tales of bravery and adventure we see and hear in movies and books.
From noble explorers to fearless treasure hunters, childhood was the best time to let our imaginations run wild, as we pictured ourselves accomplishing brave feats.
And although there is little treasure left to hunt, and barely any undiscovered land to explore, there are still plenty of opportunities to allow your child to experience real Adventure.
Mountain Biking is one of the best and easiest ways to introduce fun and adventure into your child’s life.
Let them experience the true beauty of your state and surrounding states, as they ride through perfectly preserved mountainsides, following the natural beauty of a river.
Give them the opportunity to hone their skills as they fly over jumps and through rock beds, riding the line between risk and bliss.
Before long, they will start to develop their own Bucket List of trails and destinations they must visit.
In conclusion, there are probably thousands of reasons why Mountain Biking is a great idea for your kids.
If you’re ready to get them started, make sure you check out this guide on teaching them how to Mountain Bike.
If you have any questions, please reach out to us at email@example.com.