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WE GET IT AND WE HAVE A PLAN Seattle is going to build 250 miles of neighborhood greenways family-friendly residential streets and 100 miles of protected bike lanes over the next 20 years. Complementing this effort is our Safe Routes to School Program see page 19 and our Vision Zero Plan see page 12. SIMPLE SOLUTIONS In the meantime get together with other parents and form walking buses or bike trains to add a fun activity to a students day it might even build enthusiasm for going to school. Always share the rules of the road with participating children If they are on a bike make sure to grab helmets for everyone and practice biking in advance. Recruit one parent or volunteer per every three to six children and go for it Because remember biking can make you smarter THE RESEARCH IS STACKING UP physical activity gives you an increased power of concentration and self-esteem which can lead to higher test scores in school. If you are in the habit of driving your kids to school or yourself to work you might reconsider. One of the main conclusions of a com- prehensive Danish project the Mass Ex- periment 2012 found that kids who walk or bike to school score higher on concentra- tion tests than those who went by car train or bus. The project also showed that the effects of exercise last for about four hours of the school day. The study looked at near- ly 20000 kids between the ages of 5 and 19. Why would physical activity positively influence academic performance There are several ideas including Increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain Increased levels of norepinephrine and endorphins resulting in a reduction of stress and an improvement of mood Increased growth factors that help to cre- ate new nerve cells and support synaptic plasticity. A similar but smaller study conducted by the University of North Texas in 2012 had comparable findings. Cardiorespira- tory fitness was the only factor that was consistently found to have an impact on both boys and girls performance on read- ing and math tests. In 2010 researchers at the University of Illinois found physical evidence supporting the idea that phys- ical activity supports synaptic plasticity. Researchers measured how efficiently 49 children used oxygen while on a tread- mill to determine their fitness level. They then used an MRI to measure the size of the hippocampus a structure tucked deep within the brain. A bigger hippocampus is associated with better performance on spatial reasoning and other cognitive tasks. Researchers learned that physically fit children tended to have bigger hippocam- pal volume than their out-of-shape peers. Finally they found that fit children per- formed better on tests of relational mem- orythe ability to remember and integrate various types of information. Clearly exercise is really important for children But with tight budgets and mounting academic pressures physical ed- ucation can fall to the bottom of a schools priority list. One way to counter this issue is to have more kids walk or bike to school. We know that often parents drive their kids to school because walking or biking on streets designed for cars makes the journey Can Biking MakeYou Smarter 10 BikeLife Seattle