I joined a fellow cyclist during the commute home last night as he picked up his daughter from day-care. The kids were outside playing in a fenced in area. As he went in to get his daughter, I stood by the fence to wait. Before long, I had attracted most of the kids in the play area. Many of them were eagerly telling me about their bikes, who had training wheels, who road a tag-a-long, and peppered me with questions about my bike. It was great, but it got me thinking. What happens between this age, when almost every kid is interested in riding a bike, and adulthood? Why do we stop riding bikes? According to a recent New York Times article, it could be part of a much larger trend
Young children spend an extraordinary amount of time moving about: an average of three hours a day at age 9, new research shows.
But in just a few short years, all that childhood energy disappears. By the age of 15, daily physical activity is down to just 49 minutes on weekdays and about a half-hour on weekends, according to the research, being published Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I was astonished by these numbers. A 15 year old kid is getting just 50 minutes of exercise per day and even less on weekends! No wonder our national childhood obseity rates are so high. We, as a cycling community, need to figure out how to harness this childhood enthusiasm and keep kids on bikes as they grow older. If we can manage to introduce them to an alternative transportation mode at an early age, perhaps society in general will gradually shift away from being so car centric.
I’m up for doing what I can over the long haul and hope you are too!