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Why a going on a family bike is a wheely great idea!

Cycling is one of the UK's most popular outdoor sports, boasting many physical and mental health benefits. It's a great way to improve fitness and reduce stress. And if you have children, then cycling with the family can be even more rewarding, a chance to spend quality time together, to explore new places and, of course, give everyone’s activity levels a boost. 

What are the benefits?

As well as the obvious exercise benefits, cycling with the family can be a real bonding experience – not to mention an adventure! You could cycle to a park or take a bike ride along a trail or cycle path, or venture further afield to explore a new destination. Cycling is a very mindful experience; it gives little ones something exciting to focus on and gives teenagers a break from screen time. Cycling also increases a child's concentration levels at school and enables them to become familiar with their local area. Cycling to school or to the shops instead of driving is also eco-friendly – saving money and helping to save the planet!  

Cycling alone or with the family?

If you are serious about cycling or training, then solo riding is the best option. You can set training targets and push yourself to go that little bit further or faster. But family biking is a far more relaxing and enjoyable exeperience it's lovely to be out with your children discovering new places and learning new skills. Plus, these mini adventures are ideal for building road safety awareness and confidence. 

Do I need any special equipment?

You should always ensure that everyone is wearing a helmet. If your children are just starting out, then they should also wear knee and elbow pads for better protection, plus long sleeves and trousers or leggings. And don’t forget the sun cream when the weather is warm – it is amazing how quickly you can catch the sun, especially if it is windy too. 

If you are cycling with a baby aged up to two years, you’ll need a bike seat or a baby trailer. For toddlers who are just learning how to ride, a training bike is the best option. If you want to keep everyone together, or your children haven't quite built up enough confidence yet, then a tandem or tag along is a great way to bond and learn together. Confident riders aged six years will prefer the freedom of having their own bike. 

Lots of equipment can be picked up quite cheaply second hand or even hired. Many hire centres that offer family rates fand have all different bike sizes and options to choose from, including helmets. Perfect for a family day out 

Family-friendly cycling routes in Dorset:

We love this first-hand account of what it is like to cycle on the North Dorset trailway: https://www.visit-dorset.com/blog/post/discover-dorsets-countryside-on-a-family-bike-ride/ 

 Dorset Council has a fantastic array of cycle routes and maps for routes right across the county. Find one near you: https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/sport-leisure/cycling/cycle-routes-and-maps 

 If you are looking for a peaceful, safe trail, this National Trust route at Kingston Lacy near Wimborne, is perfect: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy/trails/the-woodland-trail-at-kingston-lacy-in-dorset 

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How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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