There’s no doubt that kids have an absolute ball when they’re zooming around on their scooters. But, it’s natural to wonder if fun is the only thing they are getting out of it.
So, is riding a scooter good exercise? And should you be encouraging your child to use their scooter more?
In this article, we’ll look at:
- The physical activity needs of children
- The different types of physical activity
- The versatility of riding scooters as a form of physical activity
- Why riding a scooter is good exercise
- Long-term benefits for kids riding scooters
Physical activity needs of children
There’s a significant problem today with childhood physical inactivity, which not only results in childhood obesity, but also underlies many non-communicable diseases. In fact, in 2018 “the average percentage of children and youth who met recommendations on physical activity for health” was a mere 27 to 33% when analysed across 49 countries.
Those figures are alarmingly low.
So, how much physical activity is needed?
The Recommended Australian 24-hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years state that:
- Toddlers of 1-2 years require a minimum of 3 hours per day, including some energetic play
- Pre-schoolers of 3-5 years require a minimum of 3 hours per day, with at least 1 hour of that as energetic play
- Children of 5-12 years require a minimum of 1 hour per day of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise
Different types of physical activity
When you’re thinking about how much exercise your own kids get, it’s helpful to understand the many forms that physical activity takes.
These are ways of getting around that require physical activity. For example, walking to school, riding to a friend’s house or scooting to the park.
Extra-curricular activities like playing on a soccer team, attending dance classes or martial arts practice are all organised sports.
Physical activity participation in schools and child care settings
This might include scheduled PE classes, in-school swimming, and fun runs, but also more informal activities like kicking a ball or skipping rope on lunch breaks.
This type of physical activity isn’t organised in nature, but it is just as important. It can include using playground equipment, running around, kicking a ball, rough and tumble play, and going to the skate park.
So, where does riding a scooter fit into this picture?
Riding scooters as a form of physical activity
Scooters are a fun form of active transport. Just like riding a bike, or walking, scooters can be used around the neighbourhood to get your child where they’re going.
Of course, scooters are perfect for active play too. Whether it’s after school, or on the weekends, scooters can be taken to the park, beach, or skate park. They can be ridden alone, or with friends having scooter races!
This makes scooting such a versatile form of exercise to incorporate into your child’s lifestyle.
Why riding a scooter is good exercise
In terms of the science behind riding a scooter for exercise, the intensity and energy cost of adults riding scooters has been assessed in only a small number of studies. These studies found that when healthy adults ride a scooter, it meets “the criteria for moderate-intensity exercise.”
Although this has not been studied in children, the NHS agrees that riding a scooter is classed as moderate-intensity exercise for children. That means it is similar in intensity to a brisk walk, or cycling that requires light effort.
Riding a scooter is primarily classified as aerobic exercise, but it certainly benefits the muscles too. This is important because kids need to do these two types of physical activity:
- Aerobic exercise
- Exercise to strengthen muscles and bones
Continuous scooting can help to elevate the heart rate and burn calories - that’s what makes it a good form of aerobic exercise.
Scooting works muscles from the feet, up through the quads and glutes, and right up through the core because of the effort exerted to maintain balance while moving. It stretches out and strengthens the back and chest muscles too. Riding a scooter helps children develop power in their legs, and the endurance to keep going.
It is also low-impact which means there is a reduced risk of any musculoskeletal injury.
For riding a scooter to provide good exercise benefits, it’s important your child is also doing it safely. That means wearing a helmet as well as other safety gear like elbow and knee pads.
Please check their handlebar is at the correct height for them and that the locking mechanism is fastened securely. If your child is using their scooter for active transport, then they will need to understand road safety as well.
Long-term benefits for kids riding scooters
Science indicates that riding a scooter is good exercise, but it’s also surprising that a big part of the health benefits of scooting come down to how fun it is.
You see, providing enjoyable active experiences for our kids is an important strategy for improving their overall activity levels, and their attitudes towards the benefits of exercise. When kids enjoy the exercise they are getting, they are motivated to do more - not just now, but to develop a lifelong appreciation for it.
It’s important for children to have the opportunity to develop healthy exercise habits while they are young - I’m sure you can relate to how much harder it is to do this later in life!
Scooting helps children develop a sense of mastery as they progress from striding to gliding on their scooter and as their balance, speed and confidence continue to develop. Self-confidence is an important part of wanting to participate in physical activity. And, despite it not being a team sport, riding a scooter is also a great way to interact with peers too.So, if you’d like to get your child a scooter for a healthier lifestyle, or it’s time they had a scooter upgrade, you can find our full range of kick scooters here.