Fit for finals: Working out your brain

Photo by Katie Heald '18||There are numerous benefits to a regular workout schedule, especially in the midst of the stress surrounding final exams.

Photo by Katie Heald  ’18 | There are numerous benefits to a regular workout schedule, especially in the midst of the stress surrounding final exams.

Sophie Chase  ‘18
Staff Writer

Is that workout really worth getting out of bed and walking all the way to Ainsworth? Next time you find yourself asking this question and convince yourself to watch Netflix instead, take a second to think about the benefits that a workout could have on your body. Of course everyone knows that workouts help with weight control and physical fitness, but what else does your body get out of getting active and how does that benefit you? Turns out, incorporating regular physical activity into your schedule has a lot more benefits than you think.

What plagues most students this time of year is stress. Luckily, getting moving has been shown to decrease stress levels significantly. Huffington Post writer Sophia Breene writes about how the body’s capability to respond to stress comes from the chemical signaling of norepinephrine in the body. When you start exercising, concentrations of the chemical raise and the body works out the internal tension. Another chemical reaction takes place during work outs that is extremely beneficial to the dark times that are present before finals week. Hormone levels, specifically endorphin levels, rise in the body during a physical activity. This triggers happiness and euphoria. So if you’re feeling down and stressed out, take a break and get moving for an automatic mood booster.

There are other benefits to working out that can be found on a long term scale. Breene writes about how a tough workout could lead to the increase of brain-derived protein. This protein influences intuitive decision making and accelerated learning and thinking, improving your overall brain performance. In addition, your workout can sharpen your memory. Breene writes “getting sweaty increases production of cells in the hippocampus responsible for memory and learning.” For example, running sprints has been linked to improved vocabulary. So next workout, look towards getting your smarty (spandex) pants on!

Maintaining brain quality is just as important as maintaining brainpower though. With age, the brain slowly degenerates and loses some function during the process, Breene writes. Though it is not a cure, working out, especially before the age of 45, heightens levels of the chemicals within the brain that slow the degeneration process. In particular, this protects the cranial functions of memory and learning. Working out gives not only immediate results but also benefits that will last a life time. Stressed about your future? Go for a run. You’re building a better brain for yourself later in life.

So while you’re sitting in bed and debating what sounds better, 30 minutes on the elliptical or 30 minutes of Grey’s Anatomy, think of what else that work out will do for your body. If you’re ready for a mood booster, to get work done in an easy-going manner, or are ready to work out and train your brain, then get moving! After all, if this benefits your thinking cap so much, isn’t it technically studying for finals?

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