Specialized announced this week that it’s establishing a 501c3 charitable organization that will be dedicated to funding original research and programs to better kid’s lives through cycling.
The Specialized Foundation is an initiative that’s being driven from the top. Company founder Mike Sinyard came up with the idea that getting kids on bikes can be truly transformative, and this new project is charged with helping further research about the positive effects of exercise on developing minds.
“We all have personally experienced how riding has improved our own lives,” explained Sinyard. “Riding has significantly improved my life, in more ways than one. As a kid I struggled to manage ADHD symptoms, and the inability to stay focused was something I had grown to accept as normal. My son Anthony had the same challenges when he was younger and was also diagnosed with ADHD.”
After the younger Sinyard’s diagnosis he was prescribed Ritalin, but the medication made him feel horrible, recalled Sinyard. “I encouraged Anthony to stop with the medication and start riding. We began to notice that our ADHD symptoms would dissipate after riding and it was this discovery that began the journey to find solutions for ADHD symptoms through cycling.”
Sinyard linked up with leading scientists in the field and helped fund research and pilot programs in middles schools. The findings from this work were encouraging. Now Specialized is taking the next step, creating a foundation dedicated to funding scientific research and programs to explore and prove how riding can improve kids’ lives.
Early indications are show that young people with attention issues, and even those without, who take part in cycling activities, may better prepare their brains for learning. To better understand the benefits and the science behind it Specialized reached out to RTSG Neuroscience Consultants to research how cycling may be a non-pharmacological option for children to help manage attention difficulties and symptoms of ADHD.
Check out the video below to hear about some of the early success stories.
The initial study scientifically measured the effects of cycling on the attention capacity of 47 students ages 11 to 14 years old from Kennedy and Wilson Middle Schools in Natick, Massachusetts. For one month participants biked outdoors five days per week for 30 minutes before school. The project examined cognitive, emotional, social, and balance and physical changes before, during and after the program.
“These finding are profound and have the potential to change the way we manage symptoms of children with attention deficit disorders and difficulties,” said Dr. Lindsay Thornton, a sports psychologist with RSTG specializing in brain imaging techniques, sports science and physical performance measures. “The findings also indicated there may be factors more unique to cycling that make it especially effective when it comes to the brain benefits of exercise,” Thornton added.
The study found that the cycling program led to an increase in positive mood, improvements in
several aspects of attention, as well as acute and longer-term benefits in cognition. The Specialized Foundation will work with schools and their local bike shops to implement cycling curriculum into physical education programs. The goal is by offering a research-proven method for improving the learning environment, kids’ will have increased academic success through an activity they love. To learn more vist www.specialized.com and to join the movement on social media use #PedalsOverPills.