For students, finals are just around the corner and for many, the impending stress has already begun to take a toll. With seemingly endless research projects, reports, and exams, it's easy to get overwhelmed. To combat the weight of your end-of-semester "to do" list and the pressure of securing respectable grades, keep exercise high on the priority list. You'll be happy you did.
We've heard it a million times: "exercise reduces stress." But stress is just part of finals week, right? Shouldn't I just push through and look forward to relaxing when it's all over? While your ability to endure copious amounts of stress may be impressive, there's a good chance it's directly hurting your final grade.
Stress causes damage to the hippocampus - the part of your brain responsible for memory retention. When you're stressed, recalling memories (such as the correct formula for your chemistry exam) becomes more difficult. Regular exercise combats the affects of stress by increasing the production of neurohormones, such as as norepinephrine, that improve cognitive function, mood, and learning.
In addition to keeping your mind safe from the negative effects of stress, a number of studies suggest that exercise can actually make you smarter. BDNF-a protein that assists with mental acuity, learning, and memory - is found more often in individuals that exercise regularly. The University of Texas recently studied over 1,000 students and found students getting A's exercised for at least 30 minutes at least three days a week.
Finding the time to exercise can be difficult, but the rewards of doing so are well worth the time. Take a study break and get some exercise, your body and mind will thank you.