By Charles Pekow — Don’t think it’s too early or too late to teach people to ride a bike. Recent research says it can help the very young and the very old to learn to ride. More than that, it can help people on either side of the life spectrum overcome adjustment difficulties.
A study done by the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation on children over six with developmental difficulties showed that teaching them how to ride a bike helped them not only with coordination, but to improve their social skills, self-esteem, behavior, motor skills and overall happiness.
The researchers note that their results are preliminary and state that while therapy programs have used bike riding, not much has been done previously to evaluate its effectiveness. See https://www.researchgate.net/publication/362700980_It%27s_Not_Just_about_Bicycle_Riding_Sensory-Motor_Social_and_Emotional_Benefits_for_Children_with_and_without_Developmental_Disabilities.
Meanwhile, teaching senior citizens to ride can also help them maintain their sense of balance, another study shows. It notes that many people lose their equilibrium as they age, which results in falls that cause serious injury or death.
“Preliminary evidence suggests older adults who ride a bicycle have better balance than those who do not,” says Physical Activity, Balance and Bicycling in Older Adults, a study from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. Research found that those 65 and older who cycled were better coordinated than those who didn’t, as well as having stronger legs and better circulation.
The authors note that their sample was limited, and more research needs to be completed, but they suggest that “… cycling may be a low-impact, simple way to improve balance and reduce falls among older adults.” See https://www.researchgate.net/publication/362857459_Physical_activity_balance_and_bicycling_in_older_adults.