by Victoria Simpson
It all started with one bike in the corner of a classroom at Ward Elementary School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. School counselor Scott Ertl had the idea to get students to read a book while riding the stationary exercise equipment. Many adults like doing this very mix of activities, and so Ertl thought the kids might, too.
And he was right. They loved it. It was the beginning of the Read and Ride Program that is now in place informally in 30 states across America.
At Ward Elementary, kids ride for 15-20 minutes at a time in a bike room while reading a book or magazine of their choice. After following students’ academic performance to study the effects of riding and reading, Ward found that reading and test scores were up for students spent time in the special room.
Studies show that children (and likely adults but we’re too boring to study and should know everything already), show greater attention and have faster cognitive processing speeds when they are more active.
It’s hard to say if raised fitness levels are the sole reason behind higher test scores, as experts say fitness in kids also tends to correlate with higher socioeconomic status, which is strongly connected with better academic performance. However, adequate activity seems to be an important element of increased success in school, and as a healthy practice for life, it can’t be a bad habit to foster.
Are you an educator? Visit Ertl’s website for ideas on how to start a Read and Ride program at your own school.