Bike Desks in the Classroom: Energy Expenditure, Physical Health, Cognitive Performance, Brain Functioning, and Academic Performance

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Tine Torbeyns
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Bas de Geus
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Stephen Bailey
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Lieselot Decroix
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Jeroen Van Cutsem
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Kevin De Pauw
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Romain Meeusen
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Background:

Physical activity is positively associated with physical health, cognitive performance, brain functioning and academic performance. The aim of this study is to investigate the influence of bike desks in the classroom on adolescents’ energy expenditure, physical health, cognitive performance, brain functioning and academic performance.

Methods:

Forty-four adolescents were randomly assigned to control group (CG) or intervention group (IG). During 5 months, the IG used a bike desk for 4 class hours/week. Energy expenditure was measured during 6 consecutive days. Anthropometric parameters, aerobic fitness, academic performance, cognitive performance and brain functioning were assessed before (T0) and after (T1) the intervention.

Results:

Energy expenditure of the IG was significantly higher during the class hours in which they used the bike desks relative to normal class hours. The CG had a significantly higher BMI at T1 relative to T0 while this was not significantly different for the IG. Aerobic fitness was significantly better in the IG at T1 relative to T0. No significant effects on academic performance cognitive performance and brain functioning were observed.

Conclusions:

As the implementation of bike desks in the classroom did not interfere with adolescents’ academic performance, this can be seen as an effective means of reducing in-class sedentary time and improving adolescents’ physical health.

The authors are with the Dept. of Human Physiology and Sports Medicine, Vrije Universteit, Brussels, Belgium.

Meeusen (rmeeusen@vub.ac.be) is corresponding author.
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