Physical activity is clearly important to us as IB students. Not only do we need to complete it for CAS, but it’s also essential for a happier healthier life! However, recent scientific studies have suggested that there are many direct links between exercise and higher academic achievement. Students who incorporate more exercise in their daily lives can boost their IB grades above those without it. Let’s look at the science behind that. There are 3 key characteristics where active students are measurably better than inactive students. Memory, Focus, and Levels of Stress. Let’s talk through each of them!
How does increased physical activity lead to better memory?
A study done at UBC (University of British Columbia) on the effect of cardio exercise, which gets your blood pumping and heart rate elevated. This sort of exercise appears to slightly enlarge the size of the hippocampus. The hippocampus just so happens to be the part of the brain most involved with verbal memory! A similar study was conducted at Harvard Medical School with similar results. Not only is the size of the hippocampus affected, but the same studies suggest that increased cardio exercise also could lead to decrease resistance to insulin and inflammation. These factors all improve the health of brain cells thus leading to a happier, healthier brain.
The results are quite stunning and undeniable. It appears that a 15 minute run per day, or going for long walks every few days can not only calm you down and give you a break from studying, but also ensure that your revising is actually much more effective! It’s important to note that strength training did not give these same results. In order to benefit from the positive consequences of increased exercise, it’s important to get the blood pumping, so drop those weights and start running!
Exercising also improves our focus!
A study from the Michigan State University and University of Vermont published in 2014 explored the effect of exercising on focus/attention span on students both with and without ADHD. Naturally, as you might expect, those students who engaged in before-school aerobic exercises saw drastic changes in symptoms of ADHD or attention span. This isn’t even a long-term effect, you’ll see increased focus from the day you begin exercising! Physical activity boosts dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels which are all factors that influence our focus and attention! In fact, physical exercise works in the same way as many ADHD medications like Ritalin or Adderall do.
So how hard do you need to exercise to see these results? Research suggests that ‘moderate’ levels of exercise is healthiest for most people. Moderate exercise simply refers to breathing slightly heavier than normal, and that your body temperature is slightly elevated. You don’t need to end up drenched in sweat or close to puking to see the positive aspects of exercise! Start small and see if you can reap all these beautiful rewards!
Exercise is the best way to stress-bust!
We all know that the IB can get fairly stressful at times. That’s why it’s so important to find an activity that can help ease your mind and relax you when things get a little tough. Luckily, exercise is a long-established way of mitigating these effects. We need to recognise that when our brain feels stress, our body reacts negatively. It stands to reason then, that if our body feels better that has a strong positive impact on our brain! Moreover, exercise provides us with a distraction from the issues we might be currently facing. Even a mere 5 minutes can have a strong anti-anxiety effect!
Ok, you’ve read our reasons and want to add some more activity to your school routine. But where to start? Here are a few ways that we’ve found are fun and easy…
7 tips for incorporating exercise into your IB schedule…
- CAS! Using your activity section of case to experiment with new, fun ways of staying healthy is a great idea!
- Take a run! If you live close to school, why not run in and out? You’ll get to school faster than running and feel super ready for the day. You can even pop on a podcast and make use of this dead time!
- Cycle in to school! If you’re a little further out, cycling is a fast and easy way of squeezing some exercise into your daily life.
- Try some yoga! This activity can be done in the comfort of your own bedroom. We’ve tried it a couple of times in the office and love the productivity boost after!
- Walk the dogs! Take your pets out and get some fresh air. Don’t have any? Tag along with some friends!
- Go dancing! This is our favourite type of exercise. Bust some moves as part of a class or hit the town!
- Have a swim! If you fancy a full body workout, look no further. Head to your local pool to reap the physical and mental rewards.
So there we have it. Exercise is a brilliant way of helping to boost your IB grades. Make sure you stay healthy during your program and we’re sure you’ll reach your potential. If you’re still struggling, click here to find out more about the online tuition we offer IB students!