Children’s Mental Health Week 2023 falls on 6-12 February. The week shines a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health.
On average, Childline are contacted by a child every 25 seconds, and one of the top 5 things they were called about in 2021/22 were concerns about mental or emotional health.
Physical activity is well known as a useful tool to help manage mental health problems, and cycling can be a great way to help children feel happier and more confident.
It is great for improving moods, as exercise releases feel-good hormones and gives children more energy, so they feel happier and more positive after doing some activity. Exercise is also a good way to deal with stress and anxiety as it produces cortisol which manages stress, and physical activity can be a positive coping mechanism that can help decrease intrusive or racing thoughts.
Cycling has added benefits that make it a fantastic activity for improving mental health. It gets children outside and being outdoors, especially in nature, can help them feel more energised and optimistic than exercising inside or in a gym.
This year’s theme is ‘Let’s Connect’
Cycling can also be a social activity – in line with this year’s theme, Place2Be are encouraging people to connect with others in healthy, rewarding and meaningful ways. With cycling, children can ride with family, friends, or even a cycling group. Being outside, on their cycle, with a group of friends, is a fantastic way for children to get some activity into their day while being social. Talking to people, even if it isn’t about their worries, can help children feel more confident and at ease.
Sometimes fitting exercise into daily life, especially with school and other commitments, can be a challenge, but by cycling to school, or as a way to get around and do short journeys that might otherwise be in the car, like visiting a friend or going to the shop, it can become part of the routine.
Cycling has a range of benefits that can help children cope during difficult times, as well as improving their mental health, sleep and self esteem.