June 2019: Riding a bike can change a girl's life
Summer and bikes are naturally linked. My first bike was a
hand-me-down, a purple Murray Meteor Stratoflight, its name
likely inspired by the 60’s Space Race. It was way too big for
8-year-old me; but I was thrilled to have it to ride up and down the
street. I also wore completely inappropriate footwear, cowboy boots,
because I used to pretend the bike was a horse. I felt so free
choosing my own adventures. Shortly after it came into my possession
though, I broke my arm riding that bike, severely limiting that
summer’s activities but not dampening my love of bike riding. So I
read with interest Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Developmental
Psychologist’s piece entitled “Riding a Bike can Change Your Girl’s
Life.” She asserts that this simple machine is more than metal and
chain. It is a small taste of freedom. Archibald states, “But when
your girl rides a bike, it’s more than just a fun way to pass the
time—a bike is actually one of her first teachers. Achievements like
learning to ride a two-wheeler and retiring her training wheels become
lessons in not only balance but also tenacity and grit; a way for her
to see the benefit of falling down and getting back up again.
Navigating her way a few houses down on her bike teaches street smarts
and the importance of personal safety. From ages three to nine, boys
and girls ride bikes at about the same rate. But the discouraging is
that by age 10, girls’ bike riding drops off considerably. By
adulthood? Women make up only about 25 percent of bike riders.”
Why the attitude change? The study cites lack of confidence and fear of traffic along with some more superficial worries about being sweaty in public, not seeming “cool” or “feminine,” and how a girl feels she looks when she’s exercising. Archibald also states, “Parents are often more cautious with their girls than boys when it comes to physical activities, telling their boys to have fun while they tell their girls to be careful.”
And finally, Archibald reminds us, “When girls start hanging up their helmets, they’re getting left in the dust, both literally and figuratively. The exercise and outdoor time that bike riders experience boosts moods, fights obesity, and increases overall health. Plus, a recent study showed girls who either bike or walk at least 15 minutes to school scored higher on cognitive tests. Who knew getting her on a bike could help her be healthier, happier, and smarter?”
Girl Scouts helps so many girls continue in things like sports, activities, and academic pursuits by ensuring that they take risks and build confidence in a safe and nurturing environment. Read the full article here.
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