You may not know it, but exercising can have remarkable effects on the brain. Recent studies have shown a number of different benefits that suggest exercising can improve brain activity, aid in memory, and help with attention, depression, and learning. Aerobic exercise in particular has shown to help students perform better on tests and behave better in class. How can you boost your brain power?
The benefits of exercise seem mostly to flow from activity before learning. Going for a run before school or doing some jumping jacks before you head to the office can make you a more effective student or employee. Students who have gym at the beginning of the day show improved test scores in later classes that are directly linked with that physical activity.
Mouse studies have shown that mice who exercise before a learning activity have greater cell growth in the hippocampus, the region of the brain most closely involved with memory. The connections in their brains were also stronger. Who’s to say humans don’t get similar results?
The Memory Benefit
Aerobic exercise not only improves learning ability and attention, it helps to expand and strengthen memory. This is particularly important to note for older adults.
Even gentle exercise like stretching or cycling can help to improve memory and thinking. Staying active can benefit not just your body, but also your mind.
Exercise might reduce your risk of dementia, and at the very least will reduce the likelihood that you will suffer a stroke or heart attack. The benefits accrue either way. Make sure to consult your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen, however.
Learning In Motion
Movement can be particularly beneficial when it is integrated with learning as well. While you may have to remain in your seat in school, you can try exercising while you study at home.
This might take some adjusting but playing catch or jumping rope while you study can help your brain to make connections and improve learning. Rhythmic activities like jumping rope can also help set a beat to your studies that will help you to retain information.
Mix It Up
If you’re already physically active, you might need to try something new in order to gain the best effects from combined aerobic activity and studying. For example, if you already play baseball on a team, that may not be the best scenario in which to try to study.
Try jogging or shooting baskets instead and see if you retain more. Different kinds of aerobic exercise will likely offer different benefits when it comes to information retention and recall. Find what works best for you.
Even if exercising doesn’t improve your ability to learn, we already have proof that it can improve mood, attention, and physical health. There’s no reason not to at least give it a try! Find the physical activity that suits your fitness level and combine it with studying.
Share your tips for exercising and studying in the comments! What are your favorite ways to make learning a more active process?