Does Exercise Improve Concentration?

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You are probably aware that sitting down for long periods of times is not great for your health. Back in the 1950s, researchers found that London bus drivers were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than their bus conductor counterparts. From this point on, the link between inactivity and increased chances of diseases and illnesses was made. So how does this affect you as a learner and how can you offset this unhealthy practice and improve the quality of your study sessions?

One answer is exercise.

Does Exercise improve Concentration?

The simple answer is yes, it does!  Exercise promotes healthy blood pressure, improved energy, lowered stress levels, better moods and weight maintenance, all of which help brain health. But beyond that, regular exercise stimulates the production of the chemical Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). This substance is like brain nourishment and particularly affects the hippocampus, the part of your brain that controls memory and learning.

Various research reports found a positive correlation between aerobic exercise and improved cognitive functions immediately after exercise and with the benefits maintained for up to two hours after.

Is it Good to Exercise before Study?

A Study done in Germany found that students who exercised while they were learning had higher retention of foreign language vocabulary. The research done on the effects of exercise on the brain suggests that implementing exercise throughout the day improves your overall performance. The more regular, the better. For example, one study found that school children who had aerobic exercises interspersed in 20-minute bouts throughout their school day had improved attention spans. In another study, it was found that after-school activities improved children’s executive control.

With all this in mind, it seems that exercise before study can certainly help your concentrations levels, but really, consistent exercise throughout the week will improve your ability to learn overall. In conclusion, work out when you can as much as you can!

If you really want to shake things up, get an educational podcast going and have a listen while you go for a long walk.

What Exercises are Best?

If you’d like your brain to grow and your concentration to improve, the recommended exercise is aerobic and at moderate intensity. Aerobic exercises include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Jogging
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Cycling

And the list goes on. Breaking a sweat after 10 minutes, being able to speak but not sing while you exercise and being out of breath are all markers of moderately intense exercise, the recommended level of intensity for making your brain more efficient at learning.

In terms of frequency, exercising for 1 hour, five times a week is ideal. However, even 2 hours of extra exercise a week was shown to benefit cognitive function in this study. Whenever you can, whatever you can do, whether it’s a brisk walk at lunchtime or a few laps at the swimming, do it. You’ll feel the ripples in your study sessions.

What exercises do you love doing? Let us know in the comments!

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