Does Exercise Improve Academic Performance? Tips & Insights — MedCerts

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Almost everyone knows that exercise is good for you. It gives you energy, helps keep your heart and lungs strong, and keeps your weight under control. But does exercise improve academic performance?

Performance Matters

Education is an investment — of both time and money. Even if you're lucky enough to get funding, you still put hours of your life into schooling.

You want that investment to pay off, which means you want to perform at your best. Doing homework, studying for exams, and attending classes all matter, but so does your lifestyle. That includes eating healthy, sleeping, and getting enough exercise.

Exercise and Brain Function: Better Memory

Physical exercise helps to deliver more oxygen through your body, and that includes your brain. Studies have shown that when you strengthen your heart and lungs through exercise, your brain works better, too.

Exercise prompts your brain to produce new nerve cells in the hippocampus, the part of your brain responsible for verbal memory. This brain growth is connected to improvements in recalling information.

But to make this work, you have to be consistent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend two and a half hours of moderately intense exercise per week.

Break that into chunks if you want — it makes a routine more manageable and keeps your blood flowing.

Learning New Information

Regular exercise also encourages your brain cells to build new connections. Those connections are the physical powerhouse behind your ability to take in new information.

Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters also play a role by helping brain cells communicate, and exercise helps produce those chemicals. This increased brain activity helps you build connections and learn new material.

Does exercise improve academic performance? Start a new exercise routine before you start your Medcerts program or move on to the next unit. You'll find out firsthand.

Focus and Concentration

Learning is always easier when you're able to focus. Exercise helps with that. Many studies have linked physical activity to students' improved ability to concentrate and stay on task, which improves performance.

Experts say this works best when you exercise shortly before doing an activity that requires concentration. If you know you have to sit down and watch a lecture or write a paper, go for a brisk walk or do some jumping jacks beforehand.

Creative Thinking

Research also shows that exercise can help you think outside the box. One study showed that athletes outperformed non-athletes in two types of creativity tests: arriving at a solution to a problem and coming up with multiple options.

If you do start an exercise routine, watch the way you approach problem-solving tasks. You might come up with an answer — or more possibilities — faster than ever.

Better Mental Health

Research has shown that 15 minutes of intense activity per day can reduce your risk of depression. Aerobic activity also helps to reduce the anxiety symptoms that stressed students often experience.

Portrait of Julie Campos
Written by Julie Campos
Senior Director of Operations and Student Success

Julie Campos is the Senior Director of Operations and Student Success at MedCerts. She brings over 14 years of experience in Online Higher Education in both Student Support and Enrollment and started her career at the University of Phoenix, serving most of her tenure as a student-facing leader.

Julie has her Bachelors of Liberal Arts in Political Science from the University of Texas at El Paso, and her Masters in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Her areas of expertise are student support in online higher education environments and working with nontraditional students. At MedCerts, she is focused on creating a pro-active student central support model for MedCerts students to reach their goals and has developed the MedCerts Student Support and Outreach Model, created MedCerts Student Success Advisor reports and Dashboards, as well as the Student Success Advisor Playbook. Her proactive approach to student support has been crucial in meeting MedCerts’ student’s needs, as well as completion and certification goals.

Julie has three children – a 10-year-old son and 12- and 4-year-old daughters, who keep her and her husband busy with sports. She is also an avid crafter with an entire room of her home dedicated to the hobby. In her free time, she enjoys teaching wreath making and even has a few “how-to” YouTube videos on the subject!

Published on July 25, 2022

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