Jerry Andrews, 14, and Rahlo Reay, 13, attend the Judge Baker Manville School in Boston. It's a therapeutic day school for children with behavioral and emotional disabilities.
"He has a high-functioning form of autism and sometimes that can come with behaviors that he has a hard time controlling," mom Pam Reay said.
Both boys participated in a study that found aerobic exercise on virtual reality stationary bikes improved how children with behavior disorders act in class.
"There was about a 70 percent drop in disruptive behaviors in the classroom," said Kirsten Davison of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Davison led the study.
"Impulsive behaviors, blurting out answers, emotional challenges like temper outbursts in the classroom," she said.
At Manville, the cycling program is part of physical education. That includes two 20-minute riding sessions each week. The stationary bikes are hooked up to computers so students can play video games, keeping kids like Allara Rodriguez, 8, engaged.
"I've biked two miles on this I’ve done like 50 minutes for a long time," Allara said.
Jerry's mom says the benefits of cybercycling last even after the school day ends.
"I would see a difference in the days that he had gym because he seemed to be more settled," mom Marilyn Andrews said.
Researchers say only 10-15 minutes of exercise are needed to see results. They say they saw the biggest results on the days the students were on the bikes, but they also saw overall improvement during the entire course of the study.
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