BY MELIISSA BURNS
It is a well-known fact that exercising regularly is a great way to keep your body healthy and functioning at peak level. But did you know that sports are also really good for your brain? Over the years, it has been scientifically proven that exercise and mental acuity are tightly connected. Research on the subject has demonstrated time and time again the fact that physically active people perform better in academics, compared to their more sedentary peers.
According to the CDC, only about 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. meet the recommended minimum of 2.5 hours of exercise on a weekly basis (2008 Physical Activity Guidelines). Most people claim that they simply don’t have the time for it and, given the busy schedules of American students nowadays, it’s understandable why they think that way. However, the CDC’s guidelines are more flexible than you may think. If students can manage to do some form of moderate physical activity throughout the week (even if it’s only for 10 minutes at a time), they will see great improvement in both their health and their cognitive function.
Most studies show that the more exercise one gets, the better the benefits in cerebral performance; that alone should make you want to start doing sports. However, we urge you to be careful and not to overdo it, especially if you’re a beginner. Give your body plenty of time to rest between exercises, and enjoy a session of deep tissue laser therapy whenever your muscles are too sore.
How Exercising Helps Your Studies
There are two main ways that practicing sports can help improve your academic performance:
- Sports help your brain: Studies have shown that exercise increases blood flow to the brain and helps the body build more connections between nerves in the hippocampus (important for learning and memory). This leads to increased concentration, enhanced memory, stimulated creativity, and better-developed problem-solving In short, playing sports helps your brain grow and makes it work better.
- They help relieve stress: Stress is a part of life, and it certainly makes itself known in a student’s life, especially when final exams and midterms come around. When you are stressed, it’s common to feel fatigued and unable to concentrate. Luckily, sports produce endorphins, which not only will help you feel more alert but will also give your mood a boost. Endorphins make people happy, and a happy student is a productive student.
Exercise is Beneficial for Students in Other Ways Too
As stated above, physical activity, in general, is very beneficial to your health and your cognitive ability. However, sports, in particular, can also teach you important life lessons that will be useful to you as both a student and as a person in the long-run. For example, team sports are a great way of learning about teamwork; knowing how to work with others will most certainly help you in your academic endeavors and your professional life later on. Sports can also teach you the value of hard work, time management, discipline, and how to accept defeat; all of which are important things to learn as you pursue your educational goals. They’re also great soft skills to have in your arsenal when it’s time to enter the workforce.
To sum up
Improve your grades, get healthy, and learn valuable life lessons, all thanks to something as simple as practicing sports. So, go ahead and start getting more active: take the stairs instead of riding the elevator, skip the bus and walk, dust off your old bicycle, or maybe even find a sport you really enjoy and join a team. Your body, as well as your mind, will thank you for it.
Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented.