With a schedule packed full of classes, extracurricular activities and social obligations, life can get pretty busy. Rest is a necessary part of a college student’s life, but exercise should be as well. Scientific research shows that regular exercise can improve cognitive benefits that can positively affect students’ scholastic performance. The following list below explores five reasons why students should make time to exercise.
- Increased Energy
In a study from Harvard University, we can learn about the effect of exercise in relation to our energy levels. When you exercise, cellular-level changes happen inside your body, which then makes your body produce more mitochondria inside your muscle cells. Mitochondria creates fuel out of glucose from the food you ingest and oxygen you breathe in; having more of them will increase the supply of energy in your body. Exercise also boosts oxygen circulation in your body, which lets your body function and use energy more efficiently. Not only does regular exercise help create and use energy, it also promotes better sleep at night.
- Lower Stress Levels
A recent study from the University of Minneapolis looked at college students’ moods, stress levels, exercise habits, and the amount of time they spend socializing. The researchers found that students who exercised at least three times a week, at least 20 minutes a day, said that they had lower levels of stress as well as better moods. College can be a stressful time for students and this study found that the ability to deal with stress is crucial for students to be able to maintain their mental and physical health. Prolonged periods of stress have negative effects on the body and mind—exercise can combat those by assisting with sleep/wake cycles, which ultimately eases anxiety, and may alleviate larger health problems down the road.
- Brain Development and Concentration
Not only does exercise promote brain development as well as concentration, regular exercise makes your brain stronger. Studies have found that when you exercise, your body produces a protein called FNDC5 and then it is released into the bloodstream. After this process, your brain produces another protein, BDNF, that prompts your body to grow new nerves and helps existing brain cells to survive. Since physical activity causes blood to flow to the brain, research shows that only 20 minutes of exercise before your study session can improve concentration.
- Heightened Focus
There are a few “challenges” that can stimulate the production of new cells in the brain such as social opportunities, increased learning and more physical activity. A combination of all of these things can help keep the mind focused, improve concentration, and most importantly, boost academic success and work productivity in students. Research from Michigan State University has found that there is a link between exercise and higher GPAs in college students. Researchers found that exercise can increase the number of brain cells in the hippocampus, which is also essential in learning and memory.
- Better Mood
Trying to stay positive, even when your work piles up and your schedule is booked, is very important. Lacking motivation is a common issue in college students, but exercise is a great way to overcome that. While working out, your body releases endorphins which are the body’s natural chemicals that make us “feel good” and boost our mood. Not only does exercise make you physically feel great, but it also helps you mentally as well.
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