There’s a movement traveling through school classrooms across the country. Literally.
Stationary education is becoming a thing of the past as schools are discovering the benefits of blending exercise and learning. Through the Read and Ride Program, health- and grade-boosting exercise bikes are becoming fixtures in schools — and they’re proving their worth.
It all began five years ago at Ward Elementary School in Winston-Salem, N.C. Instead of desks, Ward has an entire classroom filled with exercise bikes. Periodically throughout the day, teachers will bring their students to the room to ride and read.
Not only does the program encourage and promote reading at a young age, the exercise factor improves students’ brain functioning, too. In 2010, Ward Elementary students who were in the program achieved an average 83 percent reading comprehension, while those who weren’t averaged just 41 percent, reports Fast Company.
Due to these standout results, solo exercise bikes are being added to classrooms to use as a “reward” for students or to just allow them to release some excess energy.
“Riding exercise bikes makes reading fun for many kids who get frustrated when they read,” program founder Scott Ertl tells Fast Company. “They have a way to release that frustration they feel while they ride.”
Looking beyond the educational benefits, the bikes also provide great exercise for kids who are confined in a classroom for six hours a day.
“Many students who are overweight struggle with sports and activities since they don’t want to always be last or lose,” Ertl explains to Fast Company. “On exercise bikes, students are able to pace themselves and exert themselves at their own level — without anyone noticing when they slow down or take a break.”
Since 2009, the Read and Ride program has gone national with chapters in 30 other schools. Russell Jones Elementary in Rogers, Ark., is one of those schools. In 2011, students who were a part of the program had an average growth rate of 113 points, whereas those who weren’t scored an average of 79 points.
They say that reading can take you anywhere, so the only question is: Where do you want to go?