Whether you’ll soon be starting uni or you’re already an established student, it’s unlikely that you’re thinking too much about staying in shape – unless you’re studying sports science, in which case you’re probably super-healthy already.
Studies show that students are known to engage in health-risking lifestyle behaviours, especially when it comes to food. We know that a kebab can seem appealing after a night out, but it’s probably not the best idea if you’re hitting the town five times a week.
It can be difficult to find time to exercise when you’re already trying to balance work, uni, and a social life, but with plenty of accommodation options providing on-site gym facilities, it has never been easier for you to fit in a few workouts in and amongst everything else. Not only is exercising a great way to stay in shape while you study, but it can also make you an even better student than you already are.
Exercise Improves Your Physical Health
This is an obvious one, but exercise is a proven method when it comes to improving your physical health. Experts have found that there is a connection between being physically healthy and delivering a strong academic performance. This is because low-intensity exercise can give our energy levels a much-needed boost, which is perfect for when you’re reaching the end of those back-to-back lectures and the fatigue kicks in.
Exercise Promotes Brain Development
Studies have found that when you exercise, your body produces a protein called FNDC5, which is then released into the bloodstream. This then helps your brain to produce yet another protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which then prompts your body to grow new nerves and helps existing brain cells to survive – in other words, regular exercise makes your brain stronger.
Certain areas of the brain are more likely to develop in this way than others, but it just so happens that the hippocampus – the area of our brain that is involved with retaining information – is incredibly responsive to these proteins. This means that exercising regularly can help you take in and retain what you learn in lectures more easily than if you didn’t exercise at all.
Exercise Improves Concentration
Research shows that just 20 minutes of exercise before studying can improve concentration and help you focus your learning. This is because intense physical activity causes blood to flow to the brain, which then fires up your neurones and promotes cell growth, particularly in the hippocampus (which is critical for learning).
Different types of exercise affect the brain in different ways, which means certain forms of physical activity can help you concentrate better than others. Start out by taking a brisk walk to your next lecture, because this type of exercise has been linked to strong engagement when it comes to learning.
If you’ve got time before uni, try out some yoga positions, as these are a great way to learn self-discipline and how to focus your mind – most local gyms offer student discount on yoga classes, which means you can try it out for minimal cost!
Exercise Boosts Your Mood
It’s important to remain enthusiastic throughout your studies, even when the work piles up. Trying to keep a positive mindset will enable you to stay focused and engaged through your lectures and exams, but it isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Exercise has been found to treat mild-to-moderate depression as effectively as medication (without the side effects), so taking the time to exercise before you study will keep you in the right frame of mind for learning.
There can be times throughout uni when the workload becomes a little bit stressful, which can impact your mood and cause you to lose focus. When stress affects the brain and its nerve connections, the rest of your body will feel the strain. Fortunately, this process can also work in reverse, so improving your physical health through exercise can have a positive impact on the brain and help to relieve stress.
A Healthy Body Equals a Healthy Mind
While you’re at uni, finding the time to exercise will not only improve your physical health, but will also have a huge impact on other areas of your life. Staying fit can lift your mood, relieve stress, and boost your brain power, helping you to make the most of your time at uni.
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