Does Exercise Help You Learn? 7 Ways Working Out Can Better Your Brain
It seems a little too easy to stockpile all of the benefits of exercise for your mind, body, and spirit, but I'm going to take this opportunity to add yet another one to the list. You probably already know that exercise can help decrease anxiety, improve mood, and it keeps your body healthy, all the way from your cells right down to your bones. But there are also ways that sweating your ass off and practicing regular exercise can help you learn and better your brain power.
Don't worry -- we're not going to get too technical on you. In fact, the way exercise affects the brain is actually pretty simple. First of all, the increase in heart rate pumps more blood and oxygen to that pink, crinkled powerhouse inside your head, and incites the release of hormones that all make it a more conducive environment for the growth of brain cells.
Regular exercise stimulates brain plasticity (which is the brain's ability to change and grow throughout a person's life), and that makes it possible for you to learn new information and retain the stuff you've already got up in there.
Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, said “engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions.” How's that for a mind-body connection?
So, whether you just need to get out that pent-up energy from the stress of your day, or you want to boost your brain power before that bio exam, lace up those sneaks and get yourself moving. Here are a few changes you may notice after the fact.
1. You'll Have More Energy
You probably already know that exercise helps combat fatigue and boosts energy levels. But some studies have even shown that regular workouts can be more effective than other medical stimulants.
2. You'll Understand Information More Clearly
Learning is about comprehending, right? Well, Elite Daily had the chance to speak with Michael Mackin from MMfitness.ie, who points out,
Endurance training releases a hormone called irisin. This boosts the expression of a protein called BDNF, which helps you learn, improve cognition, and retain information.
Pretty cool, right?
3. Your Memory Will Improve
When your body is aerobically active, you're actually able to remember more. Participants in an experiment published in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine were asked to memorize letters, then given the chance to run, lift weights, or quietly sit. Those that chose to run were quicker and more accurate at recalling the letters.
Plus, endorphins that are released during exercise are also said to increase memory.
Think of it this way: Taking a jog or doing those jumping jacks today could theoretically lessen the time you're looking for your keys tomorrow.
4. Your Brain Will Be Able To Make New, Interesting Connections
Research from UCLA shows that voluntary exercise increases the growth factors in the brain, encouraging the development of new neural pathways and connections.
Guys, the human brain is freaking wild.
5. You May Be Able To Learn A New Language
Who says you can't learn a foreign language in adulthood?
As it turns out, doing so can help retain your memory and cognition, and studies are being done at the University of Queensland to see how exercise can help you learn a new language more quickly.
Plus, that research is especially awesome because it aims to help adults suffering from strokes or Alzheimers re-learn how to speak.
7. You'll Have Razor-Sharp Focus
Studies done at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign showed that aerobic exercise greatly increased focus, ability to avoid distraction, and decision-making processes in adults.
So, whether you're headed to school, or just trying to get more reading done, adding a little sweat to the equation is only going to enhance your abilities.