Children who cycle to school have measurably better concentration than those who don't

Up to 4 hours' after-effects of exercise on the way to school

by Sarah Barth   February 9, 2013  

children cycling.jpg

Children who cycle or walk to school demonstrate a measurable increase in concentration that lasts for up to four hours, a Danish study has found.

The survey, part of a project named 'Mass Experiment 2012', looked at nearly 20,000 Danish children from the ages of five to 19.

The project aimed to find the connection between diet, exercise and concentration.

To the surprise of Niels Egelund of Aarhus University in Denmark, who conducted the research, the effect of exercise was greater than that of diet:

"The results showed that having breakfast and lunch has an impact, but not very much compared to having exercised," he told AFP.

"As a third-grade pupil, if you exercise and bike to school, your ability to concentrate increases to the equivalent of someone half a year further in their studies," he added.

“I believe that deep down we were naturally and originally not designed to sit still.

“We learn through our head and by moving. Something happens within the body when we move, and this allows us to be better equipped afterwards to work on the cognitive side.”

According to the Guardian, in 2011 only 1% of primary and 2% of secondary school children cycled to school.

And of course it's often the case that the schools don't help - we brought to your attention the case of Sam O'Shea, who was aged 11 when he was banned from riding to his school in Portsmouth, with staff at St Paul’s Primary School citing a lack of storage space and dangerous roads around the school as the reason for their stance, even though Sam’s mother, Angela, spent months arguing that Sam's one-mile journey, almost all on cycle paths, was safe, a view supported by an official risk assessment.

And school sports are on the wane too - a Department for Education study found that across Years 1 – 13, only 55% of pupils participated
in just three hours of PE and out of hours school sport during the 2009/10 academic year - and that was an increase on previous levels.

8 user comments

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If schools taught pupils to think, rather than to memorise the curriculum and perform in exams, to sustain the school's ranking, then this would be an important study. As it is, the situation is not very different to when Oscar Wilde put the following words into the mouth of Lady Bracknell: "The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square." Substitute "upper classes" with the rich and powerful in general, and you can see why education is being turned into a drive-thru experience, which ultimately you have to get into debt to complete, meaning you have to work for the rich and powerful for many years to pay it off. That and paranoia from parents and teachers about safety is why cycling in this country is becoming the new golf: something bored office workers take up in their thirties to relieve stress.

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
9th February 2013 - 9:55

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I cycled to school every day it wasn't raining. Is that why I was a loud-mouthed smartass who spent many a miserable hour in detention? No, thought not.

posted by sidesaddle [64 posts]
9th February 2013 - 21:30

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I cycle to School on Saturdays.

I know, I know.

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1728 posts]
9th February 2013 - 22:06

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Jesus, look at that rear tyre in the photo. Put some bloody air in it woman! Big Grin

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1011 posts]
9th February 2013 - 22:54

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So a scientific study has discovered that excercise is good for you Surprise F**k me Surprise What are they going to discover next Thinking

posted by SideBurn [763 posts]
10th February 2013 - 16:14

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HAHAHAHAHA!!!
My 4 year old cycles to school every single day. I love him dearly, but he has the concentration of a goldfish!

But as the study applies to children over 5, there's hope for him yet...

posted by ir_bandito [58 posts]
11th February 2013 - 12:11

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I cycled to primary school, add does my brother now. The secondary school however was a no go, simply because at rush hour it wasn't safe, the buses and bad roads made it so. Even now, at 20 I don't like using that route on rides, as I still don't feel that safe doing so. As usual, better facilities and a change of culture on the roads would make it far better

posted by pdows47 [103 posts]
11th February 2013 - 21:53

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Did you choose that name yourself, uber, or was it foisted on you?

posted by paulfg42 [368 posts]
18th February 2013 - 18:09

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