Murray Middle School’s 2022 bike program spurred students exercise

By Patrick Tennison and Simon Gulbranson

The bike unit from Mr. (Dewayne) Combs’ gym class has come and gone, and we have lots of reflections from sixth- to eighth-graders about the impact it had on them.

The program was offered to physical education teachers, and Mr. Combs put in the work to get the bikes for Murray. This is the second year Mr. Combs has had the bike unit at school.

We asked students in gym classes about their experiences with the bikes; here are a few quotes:

• “We get to go outside, and it’s very different from everything else we do in phy. ed.”

• “(My favorite part was) when we got to change terrain, because normally we would go around the same loop, and going up and down hills. So being able to ride farther made it even better.”

• “My favorite part from the bikes was probably being able to go wherever we wanted around the block, and going as fast or slow as I wanted.”

Some students said they really enjoyed the entire bike unit while others said they just liked getting outside.

Perhaps, most importantly, the bike program appears to positively impact many students’ overall level of physical activity.

In the spring of 2022, about 150 students participated in a survey before and after the bike unit. There were some very positive results. The daily screen time for students outside of school was lowered by a lot.

In the pre-bike survey, 30% of students answered: more than six hours of screen time outside of school. That number dropped to only 25%. The bike unit helped students appreciate the outdoors, and they were more active after the bike unit.

The proportion of students active everyday went from 13% to 16%!

Also, 27% of students answered, “Physical Education,” when asked about their favorite class. It went up to 32% after the bike unit.

The bike unit in physical education was a very different experience compared to normal activities in P.E. Mr. Combs did a great job getting students more active, and he has created a very positive experience for many students.

So next time you see a group of excited Murray students riding through your neighborhood, say hi! 

Patrick Tennison and Simon Gulbranson, eighth-grade students at Murray Middle School, wrote this article as a part of their journalism class, taught by Carrie Bittner.

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