Biking Makes Teens Smarter (But Just the Girls)

Beauty and the Bike photo

Photo courtesy Sabine Bungert via Beauty and the Bike project.

Girls who walked or biked to school in a recent Spanish study performed better at school in verbal and math skills then their cohorts who rode the bus or rode a car, according to this story from Reuters News.

And the longer the girls in the study commuted, the better they performed - regardless of how much other exercise and sports activity they reported.

What is interesting is that improved test results didn't hold true for the boys studied, leading researchers to question whether it is just the increased exercise levels (girls have been found to exercise less than boys) or other factors that made girl cyclists and walkers do better on cognitive tests girls that were driven or bussed to school.
David Martínez-Gómez of the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid and his colleagues looked at test scores from 1,700 urban Spanish teens.

Roughly 65 percent of teens reported walking or biking to school.

Researchers discovered that girls with an active commute scored an average of 53 points in tests of cognitive function, while those who got a ride scored around four points less.

In the cross-sectional study five cities were studies in Spain - Granada, Madrid, Murcia, Santander, and Zaragoza - and a total of 1,700 teenagers (892 girls) were looked at.

"Active" girl commuters who spent more than 15 minutes biking or walking to school did better in 3 out of 4 cognitive performance tests than girls who spent less than that time getting to school, according to the researchers.

These results show a correlation between girls' better test scores and their commuting style. Other studies point to the fact that more driving correlates with more obesity, as do suburbs, recessions, and cheap gas.

More about girls and biking at TreeHugger
Why Bikes for Girls is a Lifechanging Concept in Africa (Video)
Why Women Bike, and Why They Don't
The Crusade Against Female Cyclists
5 States Where Women Barely Dare to Ride

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