You can make your kids smarter simply by not driving them to school. They still have to go to school, but they have to get there under their own power. According to a study of 20,000 Danish children ages 5-19, those who biked or walked to school “performed measurably better on tasks demanding concentration… and the effects lasted for up to four hours after they got to school.”
The measured effect wasn’t at all minor. According to study co-author Niels Egelund, the kids’ “ability to concentrate increases to the equivalent of someone half a year further in their studies” and exercise was statistically more powerful in aiding concentration than the behavior they set out to statistically validate: eating breakfast.
Too many Arizona children can’t practically ride or walk to school. Developmental choices for the built environment, the historical lack of attention to creating more livable communities, and underutilization of resources for creating safe routes to school all contribute to the problem, and this study points out yet another unintended health impact that results.
Whether conscious or unconscious, choices are still choices. What Arizonans need to do now is to think more intentionally about how built environment affects their lives, ways they can adapt to improve their health and wellbeing, and act accordingly. After all, something as simple as riding your bike to school turns out to be the beginning of a virtuous cycle.