Our research seeks to understand how riding a bike impacts how we think, feel, and behave.
Our journey to better understand how riding a bike can impact our brains started with one question: “Can cycling positively impact learning, health, and wellbeing for kids with ADHD?” A small team of neuroscientists examined the impact of introducing a regular cycling program to middle school students with ADHD and found many positive benefits of the program, including improvements in measures of attention and of physical fitness. Positive moods also increased after riding.
Since then, we’ve expanded our focus beyond ADHD. We’re still studying how cycling impacts attention and learning, but we’re also asking how cycling makes both youth and their communities happier and healthier. We do this through applied research with our Riding for Focus program and through institutional research in partnership with universities around the country.
outride research summit
Outride’s annual research summit provides a platform for the latest research on the impact of cycling on our mental, physical, and socio-emotional wellbeing. This year marks our 5th annual summit and will take place on July 28, 2021. The theme this year is Advancing Youth and Community Well-Being Through Cycling and we’re excited to hear from a wide range of speakers about how cycling helps support happiness and health for youth and their communities. Attendance is free and open to the public. Learn more about the summit and register to attend by clicking here.
Working with institutional partners allows us to understand why and how cycling impacts how we think, how we feel, and how we behave. This knowledge can also help us improve our school programs.
Outride-Stanford Research Partnership
Over the past several years, there's been a heightened interest in the connection between exercise and fitness as a method to improve brain function and as a means of improving attention and concentration in children. A growing body of research has shown that exercise can lead to benefits, like improved thinking, greater happiness, decreased anxiety and depression, and better academic performance. In addition to this, studies have shown that moderate-to-vigorous exercise enhances executive and motor functioning, which are skills that are impaired in children with ADHD.
There remain significant gaps in our understanding of ADHD and the role exercise plays in reducing its core symptoms, like inattention and impulsivity. And to date, there haven't been any large-scale, primary research studies conducted to specifically examine the unique advantages that cycling can provide over other forms of physical activity for kids with ADHD.
To address this gap, the we've partnered with Dr. Allan Reiss and his team at Stanford Medical School in order to launch a research study to better understand the effects of cycling on brain function and cognition in children with ADHD. Through this multi-year collaboration, we'll explore how a range of cycling programs, differing in intensity, duration, and frequency, influence the brain and behavior, as well as symptoms of ADHD like concentration, attention, and inhibition in adolescents. In the long term, we hope to use these finding to help doctors tailor cycling-specific interventions as a part of a comprehensive treatment program for ADHD.
Other Institutional Partners
We’re also working with researchers at the University of Wyoming, the University of Georgia, and the University of Central Michigan. Active research studies include:
Impact of Riding for Focus on Motivation and Life Skills Development
Acute Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training on Executive Function in Middle School Students with ADHD
Impact of Intensity and Timing of Cycling Exercise on Learning
We continually work with our Riding For Focus programs in over 200 middle schools around the country to collect data to better understand the impact of the program on the students and to continually identify areas to improve.
So far, some of our applied research findings include:
Riding For Focus can transform students. Schools have seen positive effects ranging from increased student motivation to improved self-esteem and focus in their students
It gets new kids riding! On average, 10-20% of students at a school don’t know how to ride a bike. By the end of the Riding For Focus program, students who didn’t know how to ride feel confident riding!
Students LOVE the program. 87% of students report having fun in Riding for Focus, even those who typically don’t like school or PE.
It gets kids moving. Heart rate tracking indicates students can reach half of their daily activity levels in a 50–60 minute Riding for Focus class.