HomeSportsExercise and The Brain: How College Sports Impact Learning
Exercise and The Brain: How College Sports Impact Learning
September 10, 2020
Keeping active and exercising regularly is important for weight management and helps keep us zipping up our favorite pair of jeans. But the benefits of sport and exercise go far beyond helping us burn off those extra calories we consume while indulging in college parties and nights out.
More and more research is shedding light on how exercise and playing sport has a positive impact on the brain and how it processes, holds, and interprets information. Here are five ways that college sports impact learning.
Exercise motivates us to be healthy
The better we feel on a physical level, the more motivated we are to live a healthy lifestyle in general. Extensive partying, drinking, and eating that comes with college life is incredibly unhealthy. Late nights and heavy drinking will have a direct effect on our studies and the ability to learn and retain information.
When we exercise, we feel healthy and motivated to keep that feeling. Overall health will keep our minds healthy as well as our bodies. The best time to start this healthy routine that we can keep throughout life is while at college because there are many options for outdoor sports for students.
Exercise relieves and helps manage stress
College comes with large amounts of stress. The rest of our lives hinges on how well we achieve in our chosen courses. It lays the foundation for the career and profession that we are pursuing. College also costs money and the pressure of student loans and overall expenses increases the pressure to achieve.
High-stress levels have a negative impact on sleep, cognitive functioning, memory, learning ability, and eating habits – all of which have further knock-on effects. Taking time out to get outdoors to play sports and get some exercise is one of the most effective and available ways for students to manage their stress levels and turning negatives into positives.
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Exercise builds brain power
Studies have proven that regular exercise and playing of sport has a direct and very positive impact on brain development and function. The increase in blood and oxygen flow to the brain that is achieved through exercise boosts learning, focus, and concentration abilities. When you are able to concentrate and retain information more efficiently. You are more motivated to keep at it when it comes to your studies.
The fundamental movement and coordination skills that you need to master when playing sports also help build cognitive function. The time away from your desk and the mental break you get while out on the playing field gives your brain recovery time. Just like our muscles, our brain gets stronger through recovery. This will obviously result in achieving higher grades.
Exercise decreases drop-out rate
The social aspect of playing sports at college builds teamwork and helps you make friends. It also builds a sense of community and belonging. When we have a place where we feel we belong, it makes us happy and makes us want to stick around.
Furthermore, having a sense of community motivates us to achieve our best, reduces stress, and makes us feel cared for and supported. We are able to nurture relationships with our peers. All of this has a positive impact on our mental wellbeing, which supports or learning ability.
Exercise improves mental health
Exercise stimulates the production of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that acts as a chemical messenger boosting motivation, reward, and reinforcement. The high-stress levels that college students find themselves dealing with can lead to depression.
Depression has so many negative knock-on effects on the ability to stay focused and achieve the best when studying. Exercise and team sports, therefore, improve overall mental health. And positively impact learning ability and the motivation to achieve better results.
The younger we are when we get involved in and create a lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, the better. Our college years are some of the most important foundation years of our lives. Achieving our best at our chosen degree and getting the best grades hinges on our ability to stay focused and learn as efficiently as possible. The impacts that sports and exercise will have on our learning ability is something that we can benefit from long after we graduate and apply to every season of our lives.