FitDesk Bikes Combine Exercise With Academic Study

(Image: June Pilcher, Clemson University)

(Image: June Pilcher, Clemson University)

In an effort to improve the health and academics of busy students, more schools are putting the FitDesk Bike into motion.

The FitDesk is a slim stationary bike that also includes an ergonomically-friendly laptop station and desk, which allows students to pedal leisurely as they study without straining their backs. Each bike costs about $800.

The desk was invented by Ryan Moore, 36, and Steven Ferrusi, 51, who created it in their garage in 2010, reports Adrian Mojica of Fox 17 News. According to Moore, Ferrusi was riding his bike indoors to train while he played video games. They decided to improve the design from a pillow on the handlebars to a full-fledged riding station that provided arm and back support.

The bikes have academic benefits as well as health benefits, reports Amanda Myles of the Plainsman. According to Danielle Wadsworth, an associate professor of kinesiology, the bikes can help with information retention, as well as stretching students’ ability to focus and pay attention.

The first to test out FitDesk was Dr. John Ratey of Harvard University, working together with Florida State University. Now, they appear in other universities, including Penn State, UCLA, and Johns Hopkins, as well as K-12 schools and corporations like Humana, Dell, and Nissan.

Clemson University in South Carolina has installed 12 of these bikes in their library for the use of all students, reports Susan Donaldson James of NBC News.

Sarah Limyansky, age 21, is an intern in the Clemson psychology department, where she is aiding in studies designed to compare these FitDesks with more traditional desks. She told Donaldson James that:

You can’t fall asleep on them. It’s a good way to stay engaged while reading. I use them myself during my spare time, but I am also doing it for research purposes behind the scenes. You are not pedaling so hard that you are sweating, but it does break the sedentary behavior.

June Pilcher, a psychology professor and leader of the Clemson study, said:

Our preliminary data shows that pedaling while studying has a positive effect. We are also seeing that the FitDesk users seem to be a little happier– not jump up and down joy, but more positive.

Another student is also participating in the study for her honors thesis in the hopes that she will find information on whether the bikes can make a dent in student depression and stress.

The bikes have also made it into elementary school classrooms, like that of fifth-grade teacher Nicole Schartz at General Beadle Elementary in South Dakota. According to KOTA TV, they were purchased with the help of education-based crowd-sourcing website donorchoose.org.

Two bikes sit in the classroom, which allow fidgety students to work off their energy without getting out of their seats and distracting others.

Schartz said:

The children are more awake during the day, they are exerting that energy, they are getting extra exercise throughout the day, not just sitting at their desks. It’s also activating their brain, keeping them more attention throughout the day, and actually completing their work on time.