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Exercise and studying

posted by Hannah on Friday, 29 July 2016

Should I exercise while studying? We all know it’s good for us! However, did you also know that it can help you learn?

In this we look at exercise and studying

A growing body of research suggests that exercise not only improves our physical health, but can also increase brain function; including how we perform academically. The good news for any fitness-phobes out there is that this does not need to be marathon-style runs or long sessions in the gym! In fact, this can be any form of exercise which gets the heart pumping, including walking or swimming.

A study published recently in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that even just one session of moderate physical activity can bring significant benefits to brain function and cognition; particularly in regards to children and young people, due to continued brain development. However, the positive effects can also be seen in adults, especially in regards to older learners.

The Brain

Any form of exercise which requires problem-solving, for example; tennis, has been shown to improve how the brain processes information. This has a particular positive effect on the part of the brain that we use to organise and act on information. Therefore, this can then relate to a number of key study skills; including comprehension of tasks and also performance in exam situations. Physical activity has also been shown to enhance short-term brain function, which again is very useful for exam assessment.

Breathing and Stress

The European Journal of Applied Physiology also recently carried out a study into how exercise can alter our physiological response to stress. This study showed that exercise allows us to take in more oxygen and also teaches us how to control our breathing, both of which can help combat stress. Therefore, if you are facing a particularly challenging assignment or exam, it may be a good idea to take part in some moderate excises in the build-up, to try and relieve some of the stress. However, it is best not to overdo it, as you will still need the energy to perform!

Researchers at the University of British Columbia also found that regular heart-pumping aerobic exercise, such as Zumba, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus. This is the area of the brain which plays a role in learning and, in particular, verbal memory. Therefore, this form of excise could be useful for note-taking and also for any oral assessments you may have.

In conclusion, there is no longer any excuse not to pull on your trainers, or take the dog out for a walk. So next time you think “should I exercise while studying?” Just think how much it will help you with your studies!