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How to Exercise and Study the Right Way

Posted Jun 24 2012 10:41am

Many college students, even those pursuing their MBA's online, are aware that exercising regularly is a crucial component that they need to incorporate into their lifestyle. Not only does exercise help fight any unwanted weight gain, boosts mood, and helps you remain at your optimal health (taking tests sniffle-free is needed to increase success rates), but exercising can actually help make you excel in your studies by boosting brain power. That's right, several studies show that exercise can help stimulate the brain since it improves alertness and attention, thus making you more receptive to hearing and absorbing what your professor is saying; exercise also helps encourage the generation of more nerve cells and helps those cells attach to one another—this process is what helps the brain store and retain new information.

That said, exercise can really help stimulate one of the biggest organs in your body: the brain. But if you think you're doing yourself a favor by killing two birds with one stone you're not. Experts say that simultaneously exercising and studying at the same time—as in reading a textbook or reviewing flash cards while running on the treadmill or stationary bicycle—is not effective whatsoever. That because some studies show that when you're exercising, blood retracts from the pre frontal cortex of the brain, which blocks your learning. Instead, it's recommended to study immediately after your workout since the blood rushes back, making your more receptive to critical thinking and analysis.

One of the studies can be found in Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain — the latest book written by Dr. John J. Ratey, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. To gather the study's conclusions, 40 participants were required to run on a treadmill for 35 minutes until they reached a desired heart rate. Half of the group was required to read a newspaper throughout their run, the other half immediately after. Researchers discovered that those who read the newspaper immediately after were able to absorb the information better.

So in summary, how can students help maximize their brain power and get higher test scores? For starters they need to introduce exercise into their daily regimens in general. Then they should aim to study after a good workout. Lastly, they should get in a good run an hour or so before a test to get all of the proper brain juices flowing.

Amanda Watson is a freelancer blogger who writes about online mba programs and other topics pertaining to online higher education. You can reach Amanda at

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