Girls, but not boys, who walk or bike to school instead of going by car or taking the bus, perform better in tests of verbal and math skills, according to a new study of teens living in Spanish cities, says Reuters Health.
And the longer the commute, the higher the test scores, regardless of how much exercise girls got outside of 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, and asked them how they got to school.
Roughly 65 percent of teens said they either rode a bike or walked to school.
The authors found that girls with an active commute scored an average of 53 points in tests of cognitive function, while those who were dropped off by car scored nearly four points less.
And girls whose active commute lasted longer than 15 minutes did better on the tests than girls who walked or biked for less than 15 minutes on their way to school.
The effect persisted even after accounting for age, body weight, social and economic status, and exercise activities outside school.
It’s not clear why there was no link between active commutes and brain performance among boys. However, as boys are generally more active than girls perhaps extra exercise during commute time wouldn’t make much of a difference.
The Bike Hub levy fund supports teen girls on bikes. It part funds Darlovelo’s ‘Beauty and the Bike’ project in Darlington.