Midterms and exams are approaching and although you can’t miraculously learn course material overnight, Dr. John J. Ratey, MD says there are some things you can do to “fertilize” your brain.

In his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain he describes how exercise is just what the doctor ordered for increasing focus, reducing stress, and improving mood—things which can assist students in learning.

He describes how exercise affects learning in three ways:

  1. Exercise improves the learner. Their senses are heightened, their focus and mood are improved, they’re less fidgety and tense, and they feel more motivated and invigorated.
  2. In addition to priming your state of mind, exercise influences learning directly, at the cellular level, improving your brain’s potential to log in and process new information. Exercise creates the environment for our brain cells to wire together, which is the basic building block of learning. One of the key ingredients that exercise increases is BDNF, Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, or what I call Miracle Gro for the brain — as it truly is fertilizer.
  3. Exercise is also perhaps the best way to increase neurogenesis, which is the making of new neurons that happens on its own daily. The process is pumped up greatly after we exercise, by releasing factors to encourage the process of our innate stem cells to divide and then provide a healthier internal environment for them to grow up to be functioning nerve cells on their own.[1]
Students on treadmills at dixon
Students on treadmills at Dixon

Exercise can be especially helpful for students who are ADD/ADHD or struggle with stress and/or anxiety. Here at OSU we have a plethora of resources to help you get your heart rate elevated including Dixon Recreation Center, Sports Clubs, Intramural Sports and more! You can even schedule a free 30 minute fitness orientation.

Check  Dixon out today and fertilize your brain!

[1] http://add.about.com/od/treatmentoptions/a/ratey.htm

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