Teen girls who walked or biked to school in a Spanish study performed better at school in verbal and math skills that their peers who rode the bus or got to school in a car, according to a 2011 research study funded by the Spanish National Research Council.
More recently, the results of a large Danish study from 2012 show that driving kids to school in a car is doing them a disservice. This large study by researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University followed 20,000 school kids aged 5-19 in some of their daily activities. The researchers were interested to see whether a good breakfast made a difference in concentration levels - an idea that is fairly well accepted in the U.S.
The group of kids walking or biking to school concentrated better than those driven to school or taking public transport, and the effect lasted throughout the morning hours. On average, active students scored 8.2 - 8.4 on a concentration test (of a possible 10) while non-active students scored an average of 7.6 - 7.8. This was more than the concentration difference shown between students who did eat breakfast (8 - 8.15) and those who didn't (8.1 - 8.25).
Unfortunately, in the Nordic nations and in the U.S., the trend for how children get to school is going in the opposite direction - more children are getting driven to school than ever before. Parents perceive walking and biking to be dangerous, while actually things have gotten safer for cyclists in many, many places, and overall fatalities are trending downward.
Of course, correlation is not causality, so it can't be said with certainty that riding a bike to school will make you smarter, anymore than it can be said that driving in cars will make you fat.
With biking, there are so many other benefits, real and perceived, that it certainly seems worth a try to get parents off the driving-the-kids-to-school frenzy.
Via: Ecoprofil (Swedish)