Elementary School Replaces Desks With “Reading Bikes” And Student Test Scores Skyrocket

read and ride classroom

Ward Elementary School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina has found the formula for effective — and healthy — learning.



Five years ago, the school began their ingenious Read and Ride program where one classroom in the school was filled up with donated exercise bikes for the students to use while they read… Turns out that this has been the catalyst for some real changes in how the students measure up academically.

ward elementary student
Image via Winston-Salem Journal

While many schools are currently cutting recess or opting for longer school days, Ward Elementary is paving the way for a more active lifestyle in their curriculum. More and more studies have come to the conclusion that sitting for extended periods of time has a direct (and negative) effect on a person’s health.


Continuous sitting can lead to chronic pain, obesity, decreased productivity, poor posture and other various health issues. This combination leads to such terribly ineffective work day that many offices have opted to provide standing desks. When tested in classes, students using standing desks burned more calories, had an increase in energy, gained a longer attention span and were more concentrated.

ward student
Image via Winston-Salem Journal

Movement is the key to staying alert and maintaining focus, according to several studies.


The elementary found that their students who spent more time in the Read and Ride program achieved 83% proficiency in reading while students who spent the least amount of time in the program had significantly lower scores, with only 41% proficiency.

ward student reading and riding
Image via Winston-Salem Journal

Many teachers at the school use time on the bike as a reward. It’s turned into a fun way to engage students in learning and exercising. Students can often feel self-conscious and embarrassed when weighed against other students’ progress in gym class.


Students in the biking classrooms can move at their own pace without any judgment and enjoy reading at the same time. A little physical activity while learning has proven to keep students awake and concentrated on their studies. The program has spread to 30 other schools in the country, amazing progress in just five years!

reading and riding program
Image via Muck Girl

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