How exercise can help you study

Running

Ladies and gents, put down that 3pm donut. This afternoon, we’re talking about all the ways exercise can help you study.

There are plenty of reasons to be physically active. Some of the biggest reasons include reducing the odds of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Maybe you want to improve your overall health and wellbeing, you want to lose weight, prevent depression, lower your blood pressure or just feel better about yourself? Here’s another reason to hit the pavement…. clue: it’s major for students just like you.

Exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills!

How does this work?

In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping (wohoo!), appears to boost the size of the hippocampus. The what now? The hippocampus is the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. Interestingly enough, resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results.

The effect of exercise on the brain

Exercise assists memory and thinking through both direct and indirect ways. From a direct point of view, exercise reduces insulin resistance, inflammation and stimulates the release of growth factors – chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood cells, the growth of new blood vessels and so much more!

Indirectly, exercise also helps to improve your mood. For me personally, whenever I get stressed or overwhelmed, I find such a release in doing a bit of exercise. Even if it’s just a walk around the block. I often come back feel refreshed and calmer. It’s not always about rigorous exercise, often it’s more about making sure we take breaks. Regular exercise can also help with your sleep and can assist in reducing stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to issues with memory and thinking skills.

What should you do?

Start exercising! Walk, run, bike ride, just get out there and get moving! Get some fresh air and clear your mind.

How much exercise is required?

Standard recommendations are half an hour of moderate physical activity most days of the week, or 150 minutes a week. If that seems daunting, start with a few minutes a day and increase the amount you exercise by 5 or 10 minutes every week until you reach your goal.

If you don’t want to walk, consider other moderate-intensity exercises, such as swimming, stair climbing, tennis or dancing. Don’t forget that household activities can count as well, such as vacuuming, raking leaves or anything that gets your heart pumping so much that you break out in a light sweat.

Don’t want to exercise alone? Try some of these ideas:

  • Join a class or work out with a friend who will hold you accountable
  • Track your progress, which encourages you to reach a goal. I love the free app, RunKeeper!
  • If you have the funds to do so, why not try a personal trainer?

Whatever exercise and motivators you choose, commit to establishing exercise as a habit and make sure you take breaks during your study session to improve your memory and thinking skills!

If you have a passion for health and helping others, a career in health and wellbeing could provide the rewarding change you’re after. At Ivy College gain a nationally recognised qualification with flexible online study.

About the Author: Nicole Schaerer

Nicole Schaerer is Ivy College’s vibrant Social Media and Content Manager. A young gun with a curious mind, she has over 5 years’ experience in Marketing. Holding a degree in Social Science and a Diploma of Marketing, she is always looking to learn something new. Nicole has a passion for writing and producing great content while also obsessing over TV shows, celebrities and really cute photos of puppies on Instagram.

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