Does physical activity have an effect on your studies?
The answer to this is… YES, of course it does! While exercise has many positive physical impacts on you, there are also many ways in which exercise has a positive influence on you mentally. These factors can be very beneficial in your studies. I have summarised below some of positive effects of physical activity on the brain and how you process information:
In order to score well on a test or exam, students need to be able to concentrate on the task at hand. Studies have shown that exercising before a test helps increase the volume of the basal ganglia—an important part of the brain that helps with executive control, function and attention.
2. Attention Span
Students who are physically active also tend to be able to focus on any given task for a longer period of time—a skill that definitely comes in handy when they encounter a tough math problem.
Being able to recall key facts and concepts quickly is critical to doing well on tests and exams, and research has shown physical activity can help in this regard as well. In one study published in the journal article ‘Brain Research’, it was found that nine and ten-year olds who were physically fit had larger hippocampi than their peers, meaning better memory performance in academic tasks. By the way, the hippocampi is the part of the brain where all of our stored memory goes, where we recall every piece of knowledge we have from, hence why it continues to grow. Did you know that after the age of 18, we lose brain cells everyday – except from the hippocampi, which continues to grow, as we fill it with experience and knowledge!
4. Confidence Boost
Regular physical activity increases confidence and self-esteem in all areas of life, including academics. Students who are more confident are better problem solvers. In other words, believing leads to achieving!
5. Exercise Reduces Stress & Anxiety
We can all relate to having pre-test or exam nerves. What if I fail? What if I cannot remember anything? What if my pencil breaks, my pen runs out of ink and my calculator stops working all of a sudden? A quick burst of activity can help clear the mind, induce feel-good chemicals called endorphins and reduce stress, crushing those negative thoughts.
6. Physical Activity Heightens Creativity
Sometimes, the key to doing good on a test or exam requires a bit of creativity. Surprisingly, physical activity has been shown to improve convergent and divergent thinking, this leads to an actual increase in creative problem solving ability.
Now for a more scientific approach on why exercise is beneficial in exam year…
Exercise Fuels Your Brain
Exercise also increases glycogen levels, which your brain needs for all that academic heavy lifting.
Increased blood flow to the brain from exercise helps grow blood vessels and release growth factors. These chemicals work together to repair and grow new brain cells.
Moderate Aerobic Activity
In order to seek the benefits of exercise on your studies and grades, it is recommend by medical and fitness professionals that you need at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week for the best brain performance. Moderate Aerobic Activities include many, so you can take your pick:
- Brisk walking
- Jumping rope
- Singles tennis
- Horseback riding