‘Cybercycling’ During Gym Class Tied to Better School Behavior

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Kids with behavioral problems may do better in school when they get to play virtual-reality games on stationary bikes instead of participating in traditional gym class activities, a small study suggests. At a school for kids with behavior disorders, researchers offered 103 students seven weeks of so-called “cybercycling” during either the fall or spring semester. Cybercycling involves the use of stationary bikes for vigorous rides. The students started out cycling for just ten minutes and worked their way up to more than 20 minutes over the course of the program. When students didn’t participate in the twice-weekly games on stationary bikes, they had traditional physical education with a focus on team sports, socialization and building motor skills.

When kids did cybercycling, they were 32 to 51 percent less likely to exhibit poor self-control or receive disciplinary time out of class, the study found. Improvements were most pronounced on days the kids had gym but persisted throughout the seven-week intervention. “Many studies have shown that aerobic exercise can help improve mood and behavior,” said lead study author April Bowling, a public health researcher at Harvard University in Boston. “When mood and self-regulation, which is the ability to control behavior, is improved, then children can be more successful in the classroom,” Bowling added by email. While the study didn’t examine how or why different approaches to gym class might produce different behavior in school, it’s possible the more intense aerobic activity offered by cybercycling produced better behavior and helped improve classroom dynamics throughout the week, Bowling said.

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