You'll discover unexpected rewards when you and your family go pedal-pushing.

Family Biking
Credit: Van Chaplin

Entice your brood with a family bike ride. Affordable and versatile, this activity allows you to spend fun time together and provides a multitude of health benefits as well. You can start small with a spin around the block, or expand your horizons with a biking destination vacation.

Biking Bonus
Riding a bicycle provides a substantial workout for your heart and lower body, especially your hamstrings, quads, and calves. An hour of biking at a medium speed, 10 to 15 mph, burns up to 400 calories. Cycling is also easier on your joints than walking or running. What's more, a ride can provide stimulating new scenery and a positive perspective.

If you haven't been biking in a while, don't be discouraged if you feel a little sore afterward. It is best to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

The Right Ride
Choose the right bicycles for your family. Options range from serious mountain bikes, with maximum on- and off-road capabilities, to comfort bikes that let you navigate the neighborhood with cushioned seats in an upright riding position. Not sure which is best? Get professional help at a local bicycle shop.

If you don't want to buy a bike, other riding options exist. On your next family getaway, consider renting.

Safe Choices
All family members should have dependable helmets. When choosing a helmet, make sure that it sits level, firmly, and comfortably on your head. Always wear shoes that will grip the pedals. No flip-flops allowed!

With minimal effort, you and yours can be safely on the road in no time.

This article is from the June 2005 issue of Southern Living.