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How Exercise Can Improve Academic Performance

Joshua Cowan, O2 Active
B. Ex & Sport Sc. UWA

A common question we all ask ourselves is “Why should I exercise?”.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the average teenager needs to perform 60 minutes, or two bouts of 30 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity every day. Participating in any exercise helps improve your psychology, physiology and with the social aspects of life. These can be improving control over symptoms of anxiety, weight management, making new friends as well as self-confidence.

One aspect that is usually over looked is the impact exercise can have on your grades.

During physical activity, especially cardiovascular training, we increase the blood flow to all parts of our bodies including the brain. This in-turn leads to an increase in brain neurotransmitters and brain derived neurotrophins which help strengthen the connections between neurons and neurogenesis.

Acute and chronic physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on cognitive skills such as concentration, attention and visual processing to name a few. Studies have shown that students that perform acute or chronic bouts of cardiovascular or/and resistance training display better cognition functions compared to students who do not exercise.

So why should we exercise?

Not only does it help you maintain a healthy body weight, help symptoms of depression and a whole host of other benefits but it will also help you with problem solving in mathematics and even picking up grammatical errors during reading. So instead of hitting the books all day, don’t forget to go for a jog, bike ride, social sport or join a gym class. May help you understand that Pythagoras theorem a bit better.

 

Managing Stress Through Exercise

“I’ve got two assignments due on Thursday, another one on Friday and I haven’t even started studying for my test tomorrow. This is stressful!”.

Does this sound familiar to you? Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”. This can have a drastic impact on your body, mood and behavior. These can be sleeping problems, irritability, outbursts and many more. It is important to manage your stress whenever you notice it creeping up on you. Some techniques may be taking a break from the stressor, getting support, meditating and many more.

One of the cheapest, easiest and beneficial forms of stress management is exercising.

That’s right, going for a jog, kicking a ball, punching a bag or even skipping can help you stress less. Physical exercise is not just great for improving your physical condition, fighting off illness, but also great for your mind. Performing any form of exercise helps the body release endorphins which in turn reduce fatigue, improve quality of sleep, makes you feel more relaxed as well as reducing tension.

So, what should you do when you everything is feeling overwhelming?

Stress is shown to have a huge impact on our daily lives. But one of the easiest ways of clearing your mind and body is by performing 60 minutes a day of regular physical activity. Not only are you improving your health, but you are also managing your stress to keep you performing at your best whether its in the classroom, on the field or at work. It’s always great to seek professional support to help create strategies in dealing with stress and never be afraid for asking for help.

You can always visit organisations such as beyondblue if you are looking for extra information or support.

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