We all know that physical activity is good for us but do we really understand the impact it can have on our learning and education. In a world where academic success and achievement is the goal of so many, how do we have the time to balance study, work and exercise.
At a time when many students around the world are beginning their studies at university, college or school, it is important that we try and engage ourselves in some form of exercise or physical activity. However, with competing demands on our time how do we know what is the best balance for achieving our personal and academic goals.
Well, according to the The World Health Organisation (WHO) it recommends that people between the ages of 18 and 64 years participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the course of a week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity. It is suggested that aerobic activity is performed in bouts of at least of 10 minutes.
Research has found that participation in aerobic exercise (activity that causes you to sweat and increase your heart rate and breath faster such as running, walking, swimming, cycling etc.) can improve memory, attention and the ability to multi-task. So how does exercise and physical activity impact on our ability to learn?
In a study conducted at the University of British Columbia, scientists found that aerobic exercise improved the size of the hypocampus compared to participants who were involved in resistance training. If we look at the areas of the brain involved in learning and memory the hypocampus plays an important role in long term memory formation and the ability to recall facts.
So, as you start your academic / school year, look around and see if there are any practical ways to increase your physical activity. For example, walk or cycle to your class, join a sports club or gym, or go for a jog with a friend.
More widely, other general health benefits of exercising and physical activity will include:
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduced risk of type two diabetes
- Improved mental health and mood
- Increased bone density
- General weight management
It is always important to consult your doctor before commencing physical activity.