Your pram might be your main set of wheels these days, but swapping to a bike could boost your fitness levels.
Whether you’ve dusted off your bike to save money, improve your fitness or lose some baby weight, cycling is a brilliant way to get around. ‘Cycling is excellent cardiovascular exercise, burning 200 calories an hour and toning your lower half,’ says postnatal fitness expert Jane Wake.
And with a bit of specialist kit your baby can come along too. So long as your baby can sit up unaided and you’ve got helmets and a carefully fitted baby seat, you’re ready to go.
When you head out, choose routes through a park or along cycle paths wherever possible as the latest research suggests that being near greenery will enhance your concentration and memory, as well as your baby’s.
If you’re out of practice, you might worry about your balance and how you’ll manage if your baby wriggles about, so plan a few dry runs first – possibly without your baby so you can get back into the swing of it. It won’t take long, and there are brilliant benefits for both of you.
1 It provides regular exercise
‘If you cycle every day – taking your child to nursery, for example – it will make a big difference to your overall fitness,’ says Jane. It not only works your thighs and bum, but also your stomach – good news if you’ve recently had a baby. ‘Remember to actively pull up on your pelvic floor area to get the most from it,’ says Jane.
2 It improves your balance
If you’re biking with your baby, it will be a greater challenge to keep yourself upright. ‘You’ll be using your core muscles to stay balanced, which will also strengthen your back,’ adds Jane.
3 It helps your baby stay strong
‘Research has shown that the physical and mental health of babies is enhanced by time spent outside,’ says consultant paediatrician Mitch Blair.
4 It encourages language development
‘Make the most of opportunities to point things out as you go,’ says Mitch. From ducks to dogs and diggers, your baby will be absorbing the world around him.
5 It gives you both a dose of vitamin D
Between spring and late autumn, just 10 minutes every day in the sunshine will provide your baby’s daily dose of vitamin D, essential for bone health. If you’re in strong sun, dress your baby in light clothes that cover her skin and use sun lotion.
6 It provides sensory stimulation
‘Travelling by bike gives you an excellent view of the world,’ says Mitch. ‘And babies love movement – the jiggling from being on a bike is likely to settle your baby.’
Do you go cycling with your baby? Let us know in the comments box below.