Benefits of cycling for families

Benefits of cycling for families

Getting out of the house and being able to do things can be so important after having a baby, even though some days it feels like it might be almost mission impossible.

Being stuck at home all day with a baby sucks, and if you’ve had a rough birth, if you’re really tired and sore, things can be even tougher. Because the longer you’re alone, the louder the crying and fussing may seem and the more you start to doubt yourself as a parent. Most parents handle maternity and parent leave alone, and the more you are alone, the more isolated you feel, the bigger and harder things will seem. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a real concern, with 1 out of every 6 women and 1 out of every 10 men suffering from it in Canada. Any little thing we can do to make this period easier helps.1

Researchers at the University of Birmingham examined data from 13 studies and determined that exercise is often a great low impact way to prevent or reduce these feelings of depression. I love this quote from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK:

“We often talk about the mind and body as though they are completely separate – but they aren’t. The mind can’t function unless your body is working properly – but it also works the other way. The state of your mind affects your body.”2

The reason I love cycling so much is because it can be adapted to any lifestyle, and you don’t need to be really good at it either, you can move faster than walking and go further distances with little trouble.

  • Not got the energy to do a long trip? Take a 15 minute ride to the store to pick up what you need.
  • Have to take your kids to school? Pop yourself and the kidlets on the bicycle and get them there.
  • Prefer cycling just on the weekends – what I call a Sunday bike rider?

I think cycling is a great way to get out of the house with a baby and young kids because it can be used just like walking – as you need it

Families who engage in what is known as “enriching activities” which includes outdoor activities experience diminished symptoms of PPD.3 Something you can do with the whole family is even better.4

Families that do things together, including exercise are happier. It is too easy to feel trapped by your obligations and the never ending list of things that absolutely need to be done. With a bike, taking the trip down to the local store can be an easy solution and much faster than loading up the car. By breaking up the chores into smaller ones especially outside of the winter season can make life so much better.5 Not only are you living by example, but everyone gets a nice little boost from doing it as well.

And we have such a fantastic network of biking trails through our city parks, alongside river paths and more. The Canada Trails website has a fantastic map and a resource list for each province. Pack a picnic basket, and just go. There’s nothing more lovely.

This is the third article in our cycling series. The first article called Cycling and babywearing – yes or no? In it, we discuss whether to babywearg on a bike and also includes extensive information on laws in Canada. The second article, called But what about Europe – babywearing and cycling abroad, acknowledges that other cultures do wear while cycling and also includes extensive quotes from my European babywearing colleagues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Footnotes
1. This is an indepth report for Public Health Ontario on Perinatal Depression by Cindy-Lee Dennis, a professor at the University of Toronto.

For more information on Canadian resources visit Postpartum.org. Though they are located in BC, the have lists of Canadian resources.

2. Researchers from the University of Birmingham examined data from 13 trials including 1,734 women. Their study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, concludes that exercise – either in group sessions, individually or when added to other interventions – is effective in reducing postpartum depressive symptoms. More information can be found in this article published in the Telegraph August 29, 2017. The authors wrote: “UK clinical guidance recommends psychological therapy and antidepressants for postnatal depression. However, women can be reluctant to take antidepressants postnatally and the availability of psychological therapies is often limited.

“Given the high prevalence of postpartum depression and the potential for exercise to be a low-cost, freely available intervention, aerobic exercise should be considered as a management option for postpartum women with depressive symptoms and as a potential preventative measure more generally in postpartum women.”

Here is a link to another study which shows exercise has some impact on PPD.

3. Other ways to reduce PPD are listed on slide number 9 and cite information from studies by Zajicek -Farber 2009 and Cadzow et all 1999.

4. Cycling rules and why you shouldn’t cycle and babywear.

5. This article from the Royal College of psychiatrists in Britain talks about the benefits of exercise for those who suffer from depression.

Article on family exercise with CNN.

Information on children’s mental health by the Centre of Disease Control in the United States.

About the author

Débora Rodrigues

Débora Rodrigues editor

1 Comment so far

HowardParsonsPosted on11:04 pm - Jul 10, 2018

Débora Rodrigues editor, thanks for the article post.Really thank you! Great.

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