Thursday, February 27, 2014

Brain Fitness

We all know that exercise is good for us. We know we need to do it, and many of us actually want to. It builds our self confidence, it helps us lose weight, it keeps our heart healthy and much more. Well, what if exercise could get you better grades? Would your feelings change about exercising? Would you be more likely to roll out of bed and drive to the gym? For most college students where grades and education is life, the answer would be “YES! Sign me up.” In the vast scope of the interweb where audience can vary dramatically, I would like to address college students specifically, however, note that this information could be applicable to those in all walks of life.

I am here to spread the word that exercise can facilitate intelligence. A bold statement I know, but I have found it to be true.

Here is the key, exercising primes our minds for learning. Activity prepares us to absorb information and focus. There are a number of sources that validate this point and a number of studies have been conducted suggesting that exercise can help you be smarter. For the purpose of this article, intelligence will be described as performance on academic tests, not necessarily fluidness or creativity (problem solving.)

A study done by the University of St. Thomas found that performance on reading tests improved with those participating in exercise programs before the test.

“The main emphasis of this study was to determine if rhythmic exercise was an alternative method to standard classroom emphasis on improving reading scores. Participants in this study who completed the exercise performed at a higher level on the reading comprehension test than students who did not.” (Mead et al.)

The following are tables presented in the study where the scores of the control (those without exercise) are given and the scores of the experimental are given also.

The cause of this increased performance on academic tests after exercising is, in  part described and supported by a study done by Kara Palmer. She found that after a 30 minute bout of exercise that preschoolers showed marked increase in ability to sustain attention.  This may be the reason for enhanced performance on academic tests, the ability to focus and give attention for longer periods of time.

So what is this good for? What will you do with this?

Well it is my belief that exercise can replace many of the ineffective and unhealthy methods we use to keep ourselves focused and studying. Methods such as caffeine consumption, sugar consumption, pulling all nighters etc. Next time you are trying to study and can’t keep yourself awake, I encourage you to drop and give me 20! It might just help you more than that can of coke or red bull. If you are skeptical, just try it. Start exercising and see if your own test scores increase. If they don’t, at least you will feel and look better.  :)

Provided below is a video - an opportunity to learn more and make your own opinions. 

(Note: the information I provided is very brief and should be supplemented by your own findings.)

Thank you for reading!


Mead, Tim P., et al. "The Facilitative Effect of Acute Rhythmic Exercise on Reading Comprehension of Junior High Students." Physical Educator 70.1 (2013): 52-71. Print.

Palmer, Kara K., Matthew W. Miller, and Leah E. Robinson. "Acute Exercise Enhances Preschoolers' Ability to Sustain Attention." Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology 35.4 (2013): 433-7. Print.1-15. Print.