So there’s a funny tongue-and-cheek quote floating around the internet: “Education is important, but big biceps are importanter.”
The truth is, of course, that both are important—and not only that, but they are mutually beneficial, too!

5 Surprising Ways Exercise Can Improve Your Grades

Check these backed-by-science ways that cardio, resistance training, and even yoga can help you perform better both physically and intellectually:

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1) Exercise boosts memory and retention.

Exercising right before a study session or test can help you retain, assimilate, and recall more information, especially if you’re doing high-intensity interval-style training.

2) Exercise relieves stress.

Runner’s high” isn’t a myth: exercise is not just a great stress-buster, but it can actually help you feel more relaxed—a perfect way to ensure a good night’s sleep and reduce those pre-exam jitters (probably a better idea than reaching for that second glass of wine).

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3) Exercise improves efficiency, problem-solving, and productivity.

Studies have found significant improvements both in research participants’ output and quality of work following exercise thanks to its ability to promote increased creativity, clarity of thinking, and laser-sharp focus.

4) Exercise improves mood.

Aside from alleviating your stress, endorphin-boosting exercise can also make you feel better and more energized, a perfect combination for approaching challenging tasks with confidence and (dare we say) enjoyment. Psychological research has also shown how exercise can help people manage their symptoms of anxiety and depression, too (not uncommon among students).

5) Exercise is neuro-protective.

The most successful people in any field are lifelong learners—studying doesn’t stop after school. So, if you want to have an intelligent and sharp mind whether you’re in your 20’s or your 70’s and beyond, exercise will help make sure your brain stays healthy enough to do that. Studies have even shown that exercise can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

The specific physiological mechanisms behind these benefits make sense: for one thing, exercise helps increase blood flow to the brain, bringing more blood and oxygen to your neural tissues. Exercise also triggers the release of important hormones and neurotransmitters (like dopamine, endorphins, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF) which do everything from control stress levels to promote brain cell repair and growth. Exercise can even help develop and strengthen new neural pathways within the brain, thus giving you the brain-healthy benefits long after your workout is over.
So, got some big tests coming up, trying to learn a new skill, or simply looking for ways to improve your mental power? Be sure schedule in time to workout between study sessions—your grades and your brain will thank you.

Sara M

Author Sara M

Sara M. is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and freelance writer living and working near Boston, MA. As a former CrossFit gym owner and current fitness lover, Sara has a lot of personal and professional experience inside and outside the gym. She loves to write about various topics related to health, wellness, nutrition, human behavior, and self-mastery.

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