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Hidden Benefits of Exercise

May 17, 2013

Want Better Grades? Exercise Can Help

It is close to impossible to go anywhere these days without reading or hearing or seeing something about exercise. Whether you’re at the barber or hairdresser, attending some social event, or just having a conversation with a family member or friend, most likely, the topic of exercise is going to come up. And, this is a good thing.
Benefits of Exercise

Actually, one of the most recent health benefit claims of exercise has nothing to do with physical outcomes at all. Care2.com, located in Redwood, California, billing themselves as the largest online community of people passionate about making a difference, cites studies performed to determine whether there is a correlation between physical exercise and improved performance in academics. With the preliminary results in, the findings indicate a resounding “yes”. Physical exercise definitely increases academic performance.

But the mental health benefits don’t stop there. Literature continues to suggest that physical activity has a positive impact on health-related quality of life and better mood states as well as enhancing brain function and cognition.

Students

The findings show that:

1. Exercise increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain, something that very well can improve cognition and lead to better academic performance.
2. Exercise increases levels of endorphins and norepinephrine, agents that help reduce stress and improve mood.
3. Exercise also increases growth factors that aid in creating new nerve cells and support synaptic plasticity. (This is a fancy way of saying that when you learn something, when you experience something and you never forget that, that thing you never forget, the way it is built into your brain, is by changes in the structure and function of the synaptic connections. That is what Synaptic Plasticity is all about; figuring out what these changes are.
4. Exercise increases self-esteem, a benefit that is tremendously powerful because there aren’t many known methods guaranteed to increase esteem. And amazingly, exercising outdoors boosts self-esteem even more.
5. Regular physical activity boosts the ability to learn new things as well as memory by increasing the production of cells in the memory and learning area of the brain, the hippocampus.
6. Working out can inspire creativity. New research shows that getting your heart-rate up can pump up creativity for up to two hours afterwards.

To all the parents out there, do what you can to make sure your children’s school’s budget leaves physical activity as part of your child’s school day. Cutting out physical education and exposure to regular exercise and movement not only threatens their physical well-being, but also can prevent providing a bonus to their academic and mental well-being.

And if you’re feeling a bit resistant to heading out the door for your own sake, just remember all the hidden benefits to keeping your body moving!

ABOUT ME

I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

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