Tips For Success: The Exercise Edition

Starting an exercise schedule is hard. Keeping to it is even harder (certain members of Pivot Tutors have recently started running and would like to find a nice cave to hibernate in). However, the benefits of exercise can’t be denied- and not just for your physical health! Study after study shows that regular exercise results in huge boosts to many of the tasks we give our brains. Whether we love to exercise or not, it might just be the key to better grades. Let’s take a look at the facts and benefits concerning exercise and your brain.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise helps the brain reconfigure itself and grow new pathways for optimal performance

Aerobic exercise means any exercise that gets your heart pumping and your lungs straining for sustained amounts of time. Running, swimming, and dancing are all excellent examples. Other exercises like yoga or weight training are still fantastic for your body but won’t cultivate the same changes in your brain as aerobic exercise will.

How exactly does the brain do this?

  • The science behind it: Exercise’s general physical benefits- reducing insulin resistance, reducing inflammation, and stimulating growth factors- affect the brain as much as the rest of the body. This leads to healthy brain cells, new blood cells in the brain, and even new brain cells.

  • It preps your mind-set to focus on alertness, attention, and motivation.

  • It also prepares nerve cells to bind to one another. At the cellular level, this is how our brains log in and save new information.

  • It spurs the growth of new nerve cells in the hippocampus (a part of the brain responsible for learning and memory).

The Benefits

  • Brain cell growth, new neural pathway development, and maintenance of neural pathways, leading to greater retention of recently learned information.

  • Stress reduction

  • Improved social activity and maintenance of social connections

  • Improved confidence

  • General feelings of well-being, caused by boosts in dopamine, which improves mood and attention span.*

  • Improves sleep

*Many people will use exercise as a way to effectively reduce anxiety, depression, and a variety of other mental health concerns. While exercise certainly helps, it doesn’t magically cure all mental health concerns, and anyone experiencing these feelings should speak with their doctor.

So how much do you need to exercise?

Surprisingly not much. Studies have shown that anywhere from 2 minutes to an hour of aerobic exercise can boost attention, memory, and learning for up to 2 hours. That’s pretty easy to add into even the busiest of schedules! And really what do you have to lose by giving it a go? Race you to the bike path. 

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