Whenever we read about the latest research into how damaging it is for us to be sitting down for eight hours a day, the first thing we’re encouraged to think about is office workers. Office workers have been told to get a standing desk and to get up and walk around for five minutes at a time to help mitigate the damage of sitting, but what about all the kids who spend over 10 years in school, sitting down for around six hours per day?
While some schools are doing away with recess and angling for even longer days, others are actually responding to what the latest science is telling them by bringing in standing desks and incorporating more physical activity into the average day. One school in the US has come up with an even more creative solution - exercise bikes.
Over the past five years, Ward Elementary in North Carolina has been replacing all of the desks in its classrooms with exercise bikes so its students can exercise while they learn. Not only are the weight-loss benefits of their new ‘Read and Ride’ program obvious, but they’ve found that the activity actually makes the students learn better.
"As the elementary school analysed testing data at the end of school year, they found that students who had spent the most time in the program achieved an 83 percent proficiency in reading, while those who spent the least time in the program had failing scores - only 41 percent proficiency,” Adele Peters reports at Fast Company.
Of course, not all schools can afford to provide an exercise bike for every student, but some have been putting one in the corner of the classroom and treating it as a reward. "Riding exercise bikes makes reading fun for many kids who get frustrated when they read," Scott Ertl, the educator who started the program at Ward Elementary, told Peters. "They have a way to release that frustration they feel while they ride."
Fast Company reports that since the Read and Ride program launched five years ago, it has so far expanded to 30 other schools in the US.
Source: Fast Company