How Physical Activity Affects Student Performance

We think of education as a primarily mental activity, in which students hunch over books or keyboards and absorb knowledge, mostly passively. But that isn’t entirely true. In fact, one’s physical activity level can impact how one performs on mental tasks. Physical activity actually helps the brain to perform better and to increase learning. That’s one reason that high schools have physical education classes, but it’s also a good reason that college and university students should have a regular program of physical activity to ensure that their minds and bodies are functioning on all cylinders.

There are three primary ways that physical activity improves brain function. 

According to Columbia University, these three methods are:

  1. Increase in the flow of oxygen to the brain, helping to increase neurological efficiency.
  2. Increase in the number of neurotransmitters in the brain, helping to increase focus and concentration and reduce stress.
  3. Increase in the number of neurotrophins, which help to preserve and protect the neurons associated with learning.

These physical changes can help ensure that your brain is primed for learning and ready to achieve the best results in class and when studying. But the benefits of physical activity aren’t limited just to brain chemicals. The benefits can be seen throughout the body and across all areas of learning. 

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that increased physical activity can help you to do better in school and what you can do to start seeing some of these benefits today.

Physical Activity Is Linked to Higher Grades

Studies show that physical activity is linked to higher grades. Part of the reason for that is the connection between physical activity and enhanced brain function, but there is more to it than just that. Studies have also found that physical activity leads to better attitudes in the classroom by reducing stress and boredom and priming students to focus, concentrate, and learn. Students who engage in regular physical activity are more likely to pay attention in class and are more likely to retain what they learn than students who are primarily sedentary. According to one study, students who were physically fit scored better on tests of reading than students who were not, and they were also able to decipher the meaning of garbled or grammatically incorrect passages better than those who were not fit.

Physical Activity Has Emotional Benefits

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, “Engagement in physical activity has the potential to positively influence psychological and social outcomes for children and youth, such as self-esteem and relationships with peers, parents and coaches.” This means that students are in a stronger position to benefit from classroom learning because they feel more comfortable and secure in their position as students and earners. When students have a good attitude, they are more likely to approach learning from a positive perspective and absorb more of what they are learning. The reduction in stress created by the positive, pro-social benefits of physical activity can also make students more comfortable approaching challenging assignments.

Physical Activity Gives You the Energy to Write

Physical activity also gives you the energy to write your essays. College and university students are notorious for writing their papers late at night or even pulling all-nighters to beat the deadline for an essay. Students who aren’t physically fit get tired faster and have a harder time staying up late to meet essay deadlines. When you are fit, you have more energy and can more easily adapt to the demands of essay writing problems. Those who have high energy levels are less likely fall asleep before an essay is due, but there is a solution if you aren’t where you want to be in terms of exercise and stamina. You can contact an essay-writing service and say, “I need someone to write my paper for me,” and an expert will create a custom-written essay for you so you can devote your time to the physical activity you need. That way, you’ll be in a much stronger position next time to produce the best possible essay all on your own.

Overall, physical activity makes learning easier and is correlated with higher grades. It’s never been a better time to ask your medical professional about what type of exercise plan is right for you!