Can exercise make you smarter?
I was teaching a freshman fitness class the other day when we were discussing all of the amazing benefits of participating in cardiovascular exercises. My students were giving answers about how it improves confidence, reduces body fat, lowers your risk of heart disease, lowers your resting heart rate, makes you feel happy, allows your cells to manage type II diabetes better, lowers your risk for some kinds of cancer - their answers just kept coming.
However, when I asked if they knew about the academic benefits they all stared at me. "Working out can't make you smarter Ms. O," one of my students tells me. "Well, actually it can help you get there!" I reply.
Yes, exercise can have a positive effect on learning. There have been countless studies focusing on cardiovascular exercises and the direct benefits of learning. As Dr. John Ratey, the author of the book Spark says, cardio increases brain derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF is like "miracle grow" for the brain. It helps you make stronger connections so when you learn something after doing some hard cardio, it is ingrained in your brain even better! That's right, parents, have your kids schedule their hardest class right after PE; college kids, hit the track before you cram for mid terms!
Below I've hooked you up with a great article on exercise and the brain. You can also hear more about Dr. John Ratey on his website. He's got some great research!
Exercise Makes Kids Smarter
Dr. John Ratey
Keep on the cardio!
Kerryn O'Sullivan, Physical Educator and CPT
FunctionalFitnessKO on YouTube