Let's Go Biking!

Summer is the perfect time to get outside and exercise with your family. After all, healthy bodies start with healthy foods – including the nutrient-rich proteins raised by Iowa’s farmers – and regular exercise. With the kids officially out of school, developing exercise routines can have lifelong impacts. Bicycling is a fun way to incorporate exercise for adults and kids of all ages.

If hitting the bicycle trails is part of your activity plans, the experts at MercyOne say that bike helmets are a must.

More children ages 5-14 go to emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries than with any other sport. Nearly 600 cyclists under the age of 14 die each year, with about 80% suffering from head injuries. A proper-fitting helmet is essential for everyone riding a bike. Bicycle helmets are the single most effective piece of safety equipment for riders of all ages and should be worn every time.

Why Bicycle Helmets Are Important

  • Helmets reduce the risk of injury by 85%
  • In most communities, less than 2% of children wear helmets.
  • The majority of bike crashes occur in parks, on bike paths or driveways – not on roads.
  • Boys are twice as likely to crash as girls.

Properly fitting your child’s helmet is just as important as wearing one. Consider these tips when buying a helmet and setting it up for your child to wear. 

How to Properly Fit Your Child’s Helmet

Purchase the proper size helmet. Helmets come in sizes from 18-24 months infant to extra-large.

  • Buy a helmet that fits comfortably. Your child will be more likely to wear it.
  • Use the sizing pads or tighten the fit ring to create a snug fit for your child.
  • Do the “Eyes, Ears and Mouth” check: 
  • Eyes. The helmet should sit level on your child’s head and low on the forehead. When he or she looks up, they should see the bottom rim of the helmet. You should only be able to place one or two fingers between your child’s eyebrows and the rim.
  • Ears. Make sure the straps of the helmet form a “V” under and slightly in front of the ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable. The helmet should not rock back and forth or side to side.
  • Mouth. Have your child open their mouth as wide as possible. The helmet should hug his or her head. If it doesn’t, tighten the straps.

Tips for Getting Your Child to Wear a Helmet

  • Let your child pick out the helmet. Children will be more likely to wear a helmet if they choose their own color/style.
  • Always insist your child wear a helmet. Begin the habit with your child’s first bike.
  • NEVER make an exception about your child wearing a helmet.
  • Be a good role model. Make sure every family member wears a helmet every time.

To find bike trails in your local area or for a weekend getaway, Travel Iowa offers an Iowa By Trail app. It highlights 1,800 miles of multi-use trails in the state.

Cool Off with a Refreshing Smoothie

Following a fun bicycle ride, reward your family with a refreshing and nutritious smoothie! You can find a variety of smoothie recipes at DairyGood.org. All dairy milk – whether it is fat-free, whole or flavored – provides nine essential nutrients. Milk is a “complete” protein, which provides the full mix of essential amino acids. Protein is important for many reasons – it helps to build lean muscle and keep bones strong.

Strawberry yogurt smoothie recipe courtesy of DairyGood.

Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie


  • 1 1/2 cups cold fat free milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons strawberry, low calorie soft drink mix
  • 1 container (8oz.) vanilla low-fat yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries


Place all ingredients in blender in order listed; cover. Blend on high speed until smooth. Serve immediately.

Recipe: Kraft Kitchens
Servings: 4
Link: www.usdairy.com/recipes/strawberry-yogurt-smoothie

MercyOne Children’s Hospital provides a wide range of services for children ages newborn through teenager, including nine pediatrics care clinics, an after-hours pediatric urgent care clinic, a 24-hour pediatric emergency department, and many inpatient and specialty care services.