Exam hack – exercise boosts your memory and cognition

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We all know the benefits of exercise for our physical health, and we are coming round to the mental health benefits being common knowledge, how many of you are aware that exercise helps your memory and thinking skills?

Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means.  Directly, it has the ability to reduce inflammation and insulin resistance, and stimulate chemicals in the brain that affect the health of the brain cells. Indirectly, a good sweat sesh improves your mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety – all of which can contribute to cognitive impairment (ie your ability to think clearly).  

So what kind of exercise is useful for boosting your brain power?  Well, much of the evidence points towards cardio, so getting your heart rate up for around 30mins, doing any kind of activity (even hard core procrasti-cleaning) will help fire up the brain. Recent research also suggests alternative exercise (like yoga) can also have a positive effect on cognition.  And for those who like to lift? Good news…research in 2012 showed that both aerobic and strength exercises improved executive function (higher level thinking – the stuff you do when prepping for exams).   

Ultimately, a combination of strength, cardio and yoga is likely to bring you the best rewards.  However, with time perhaps not on your side, perhaps pick activities that you enjoy the most, and re-frame them as a reward for good study efforts. You can break it up into little chunks throughout the day or hit the gym or pavement for one solid effort. You could go food foraging at UC, using this handy Edible Campus Map, getting in some fresh air, some exercise and bonus, some free food.  We also love the UC Sustainability Office’s suggestion to listen to some inspiring music or pod casts on your walk, or simply as your thinking space. We have lots of lovely walks around campus, including Okeover Stream and Ilam Gardens.  

Don’t forget, if you need some free advice, just hit up one of our Fitness Consultants on the gym floor, they’re only too happy to share their knowledge with you. Or, if you’re more of a ‘schedule it in’ kinda person, then book in for a free 15min consultation for a chat that you can lock into your diary (and view on your Membership portal) or StartMe

Good luck with your exams!

UC RecCentre

One thought on “Exam hack – exercise boosts your memory and cognition”

Have a voice! Tell us what you're thinking...