Why Working Out Will Help Your Grades
Get ready, get sweat, go! Whether you love it or hate it, exercise is an integral part of a balanced life. And even if you haven’t hit the gym in a while, every little bit helps. If you’re in the crux of finals seasons, you should know that even moderate physical activity can help improve concentration, focus, and your ability to process all of the information you’ve got to cram in before test time. It’s simply the truth: working out will help your grades.
Exercise Improves Cognitive Function and Memory
Going for a short walk every day can help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. And regular physical exercise can help improve social behaviors and memory function.
If that’s not enough to get you off the couch, a 2010 study by a team of researchers at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan proves that college students that exercise do indeed reap academic benefits.
One high-performing law student at the University of Wisconsin finds that intermingling old school study tips with exercise helps her enjoy a mind-body balance — and get better grades. “You can put your notes and study tips to catchy raps or songs, and then workout to them,” she advises. The repetitive motions and internal monologue makes facts and figures easy to recall come test time. And this practical tip is just a drop in the bucket.
A 2009 study from Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, showed that students with GPA’s of 3.5+ were three times more likely than average students (3.0 GPA or lower) to engage in active exercise.
Best Exercises for Study Stars
Hopefully the sports science has convinced you to shake it while you study, but what are the best exercises for your grades?
- Walking or Running: Be sure to have your earbuds in, and repeat relevant vocabulary terms or dates to your upcoming exams to the beat of your stride.And if that strategy seems too trite, completely zoning out (focusing on your surroundings or your breath, for example) will provide you with both physiological benefits and a welcome mental break.
- Yoga: Feel free to find your zen and take a break from it all. Focus on your breath, the slight movements, and these strength-building stretches. You’ll feel rejuvenated and more confident afterwards. Even 10 minutes per hour can work wonders for long study sessions.
- Team Sports: Whether you’re on an intramural team or just getting some friends together for frisbee, social sports work the brain and the body. When you have to work with (or dodge) people, your body chemistry is responding to both physical and social stimuli. And who’s to say that you can’t borrow someone’s notes after you let their team win a game of flag football?
- Martial Arts: This activity can be as intense or as lassiez-faire as you want, and they’re consistently ranked among the top exercises that enmesh your mind and body. Careful attention to your focus and concentration during your exercise routine will have benefits beyond the mat — your grades and mental acuity stand to improve as a result.
- Strength Training: Pumping some iron can tire you out, but give your brain the reset that it really needs. When you lift weights or do strength training exercises, your circulation improves throughout your body. To a lesser extent than martial arts and yoga, focus and concentration come into play as well.
Mayo Clinic: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
Education Week: Exercise Increases Students’ Cognitive Function, Study Finds
New York Times: Vigorous Exercise Linked With Better Grades
ABC News: Exercise Can Make You Smarter
ABC News: Exercise and Music Clear the Brain