According to the CDC, as of 2012 more than one third of American children and adolescents are overweight or obese, a number that has doubled in children and has quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years. While a number of reasons certainly factor into this reality, one thing is for certain: it needs to be changed, or we will fulfill the rumoured prophecy that parents will begin to regularly outlive their obese children.

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In an effort to help combat this problem, educator Scott Ertl launched a program in 2010 that has since branched out into dozens of classrooms across the United States. Scott’s program, entitled Read and Ride, combines physical activity with reading by introducing stationary bikes into the classroom setting. Students are expected to read a favourite book, educational magazine, or some other piece of literature from the curriculum while using the piece of exercise equipment.

As the program’s website outlines, the initiative can begin with just a single bike, which could be used as a supplementary learning centre or as part of a reward. From there, a school can upgrade to build a designated classroom filled with stationary bikes that all teachers could book regular time with for their students.

While the idea may not sound revolutionary to some, the results it has generated thus far are hard to deny. Check out a local news broadcast from 2010 that covered the program’s launch:

A Different Way To Learn

One element that I particularly appreciate about the Read and Ride program is that it introduces an alternative form of school-based learning. While the traditional classroom can certainly be beneficial to some, children are consistently looking for variety in life to keep themselves interested. And as the program’s success thus far shows, it doesn’t take much change to re-invigorate the youth and tap into a greater percentage of their potential as students, all while helping to keep them healthy and active.

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A Losing Battle To Technology

Another great feature of the program is its potential to boost a child’s interest in traditional reading. Many of us, adults included, know how much easier it is to get lost in technology these days and that reading a good book is a slowly dying activity of choice.

By adding a simple activity to an often-stereotyped as boring act, kids are once again excited to read a good book, and I can only assume that their imaginations (and literacy levels) will be seeing a significant boost.

While getting the budget for even a single stationary bike may seem impossible in some schools, the program also encourages educators to tap into their local community. Through online outlets such as Craigslist, or by simply sending a flyer home with every child, you may be surprised by how easy it can be to make into a reality.


What are your thoughts on the Read and Ride program? And if you know any teachers, be sure to share this article with them to get them to consider incorporating it into their classroom.

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