Test ride an Islabike

Cycling to happiness

Over the past few years a revolution has unfolded. You don’t have to be very old to remember a time when talk of mental health was taboo. Health related articles in the media tended to focus on physical complaints, and mental health was one of those topics you just didn’t talk about in public. We live in newly enlightened times where conditions such as depression and anxiety are better understood and it’s not only OK to talk about the topic, it might be actively encouraged.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that incidence of mental ill health seems to be increasing:

Based on a survey conducted by NHS Digital*, the proportion of people reporting serious incidences of mental ill health increased by a third between 1993 and 2014. Although some of the rise may be due to more people feeling able to report problems, these figures demonstrate that millions of Britons are affected.

How happy are the young?

As a producer of children’s bikes, Islabikes are particularly interested in the happiness of children. We have learned that sadly young people are more severely affected by mental ill health, females in-particular. As the data from NHS Digital* below shows 26% of females aged 16-24 report some form of mental ill-health in the previous 7 days.

The challenge for parents

We all want our children to be happy, but it sometimes feels like modern life conspires against us. Technology, for example, is a double-edged sword. Yes, our children have a world of knowledge at their fingertips and are hyperconnected. On the other-hand, the smart phone in your child’s pocket can become a source of distraction or even obsession. Gaming and social media can have addictive qualities, as any parent who has tried to pull their child away from Instagram to their homework will attest!

Older children often feel the need to conform or be ‘popular’ online which can breed insecurity and unhappiness. When you factor in the increased pressure to pass exams from an early age, it’s clear that our children and we as parents, face a unique set of challenges.

Another undeniable fact is that our children are less active and less likely to be outdoors than previous generations. A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2016 showed that children are becoming far less active from the age of just 7. Unsurprisingly, children are also getting bigger as a result. By year 6 one in three children are overweight or obese.

What do Islabikes customers do?

Earlier this year Islabikes conducted some customer research. Two results stood out in-particular. 95% of the respondents owned an adult bike and 80% of customers go out cycling as a family at least occasionally. To put that into context, 69% of adults in the UK never cycle^.

When kids are out on their bikes they are exercising in the outdoors and bonding with their family or friends. That’s time when they aren’t glued to smartphones. We were proud to realise that we’re making a small contribution to the health and happiness of children by giving them a great experience of cycling which was our founding mission.

We’ve always been evangelists for cycling because there are so many ways that cycling can benefit both mental and physical health. Going right back to our childhoods, most of us here at Islabikes can remember so many happy times in the saddle and this was of course a time when technology was less pervasive. You could go out for a ride in the time it took for your Atari to load a game!

Fundamentally though, we passionately believe that children benefit from being active outdoors, whether that means cycling or any other pursuit. The trick is to expose children to different outdoor activities to discover where their passions lie. No one is saying that children shouldn’t have access to technology, it’s an essential part of modern life but there is a balance to be had.

Half of mental health problems are established by the age of 14#, so the earlier we can establish a healthy outdoor lifestyle the better the chances of bringing up happy and healthy children. Here’s to a life in the great outdoors!

*  NHS Digital, Mental Health and Wellbeing in England, Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, 2014.
^ British Social Attitudes Survey 2016.
# The five year forward view for mental health, Mental Health Task Force, 2016.

Choose your Islabikes site

GB Flag

You are visiting the UK-English Islabikes website

German Flag

Would you like to visit our German website?

German site
German Flag

You are visiting the German Islabikes website

GB Flag

Would you like to visit our German website?

English site
GB Flag

You are visiting the UK-English Islabikes website

USA Flag

Would you like to visit our US website?

USA site
German Flag

You are visiting the German Islabikes website

USA Flag

Would you like to visit our US website?

USA site