While mums often regale each other with their latest exploits with the kids, dads on the other hand, scratch their heads when it comes to spending quality time with their children. In Singapore, besides promises of treats at the mall and expensive staycations so that daddy can get away from the office, have you given thought to cycling?
The joys of cycling extend beyond exercising for a healthy body. Biking around not only keeps us fit and stress-free, but is also a perfect opportunity for dads to bond with their children as well.
*A study on father involvement has revealed that more father-child contact coincides with better socio-emotional and academic outcomes in the child. #This means that children who interacted more with their fathers displayed lesser behavioural problems, ranked higher on the reading scale and has a higher chance of getting mostly A’s. So dads – what are you waiting for? Get on your bikes!
Among the many possible activities, cycling has been shown to reduce stress, build endurance, and keep blood indices including blood sugar and cholesterol within the recommended range. This is doubly so for kids, who are still growing. In the UK, children under five are recommended to be active 180 minutes every day, while young people aged 5 to 18 should do 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
Lifestyle changes however have influenced the habits of young children in Singapore. More and more youngsters are suffering from smartphone and online addictions. As a result, teenage suicide rates in Singapore have spiked, as young adults struggle with social integration and feelings of loneliness. Such a changing societal trend further underlines the benefits of cycling as an activity of family time and connection.
What if the kids do not know how to cycle? Even better! Daddies can use the opportunity to teach their children how to work those two wheels. Experts have long agreed that cycling is an essential life skill for kids. In the UK, changes were even made to include mandatory cycling lessons into the National Curriculum in British schools. Being able to safely and confidently ride a bike out on the road is regarded as key for children to be fitter and happier.
While schools in Singapore do not seem likely to pass a similar motion anytime soon, dads can proactively teach their kids this core life skill. By coaching their kids on how to cycle, dads inculcate in the child a sense of balance and freedom. Taking bicycle trips together allow fathers to teach their juniors how to read maps to chart their routes. Such trips are great opportunities to learn about road safety, the importance of being vigilant and what to wear for self-protection such as a helmet. Kids can be educated about reflective accessories for added visibility, too.
Most importantly, cycling allows dads and kids to consult each other, inculcate better communication skills and form tighter bonds as a family. Deciding beforehand which routes to ride on, what to pack for short and long biking trips, how many rest stops to be had along the way and even the ultimate destination itself, are all good bonding moments for dad and child. Making decisions together would enrich relationships, helping them become close buddies.
With better road conditions, parks connected by cycling paths and greater environmental awareness, cycling has garnered wider appeal and its popularity is growing among families. Cycling is no longer restricted to East Coast Park or Changi Village. Now, cycling as a family is even possible in the HDB heartlands such as Bishan Park and Pasir Ris Park. Toddlers, the able-bodied and even people with various disabilities can now enjoy convenient cycling near their homes and experience quality family time without much hassle.
Cycling is not only convenient, it is also one of the easiest ways for dads to fit spending quality time with their children into their weekly routine. Starting off with a short trip round the block for groceries and progressing to a biking trip up Bukit Timah Nature Reserve or around Pulau Ubin, cycling allows busy dads to determine the nature and pace of their trips.
Whether it is for a commute or purely to enjoy the breeze and natural scenery, cycling is a low-impact exercise suitable for the whole family. If dads want to start spending more time with their children, cycling is one of the best choices.
To learn more about the joys of cycling, visit the fun and interactive Shimano Cycling World next to the Singapore Sports Museum in the Singapore Sports Hub. It will be officially opened to the public on 25 September 2014. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.shimanocyclingworld.com.
*From data supplied by the Journal of Family Psychology.
#From data supplied by the National Center for Education Statistics, US Department of Education, Washington, D.C.
Story contributed by Shimano Cycling World.