According to health.gov, children aged six-17 years old should take part in at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. Regular physical activity plays an important role in maintaining a healthy body and improving brain processes.
During exercise, people’s heart rate increases and blood flow to the brain increases, thus their brains are more exposed to oxygen and other essential nutrients. According to the Dana Foundation, these nutrients maintain the health of brain cells and promote the growth of new cells.
Exercising also allows the body to release neurotransmitters such as endorphins, which make people feel happier, Cicos said. Scientist Elizabeth A. Weaver II and medical writer Hillary Doyle stated in an article the Dana Foundation published, that those who exercise, tend to feel happier and less anxious because they release more calming chemicals.
An Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Dr. John J. Ratey explained that exercise boosts learning on three levels.
“First, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus,” he said.
Engaging in physical activity makes it easier for the brain to retain information by making original brain cells sharper and producing new cells, thus improving students’ academic performance. So, to prepare for that math test, students might benefit from running a few laps around the block, in addition to their traditional study methods.