Train Your Brain with Exercise!

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 Exercise is important for for physical health, but can it also be important for your brain? According to Dr. John Ratey who was the author of SPARK, exercise does improve your brain health. Research about how exercise affect,s the brain is fairly recent. It was once believed that you are born with as many neurons (brain cells) as you will ever have, you can rearrange but you never grow back cells. Now we have more advanced equipment, to allow scientists to look more closely at the brain and they have determined that you can grow new brain cells, by using your brain.

      When you exercise blood flow, which delivers oxygen, nutrients, and removes waste products, is increased to the brain. Exercise also tells the body to release numerous growth factors, such as BDNF (brain- derived neurtraphic factor) which stimulate growth within the brain. 

My Study

Does exercise improve cognitive function? Could a small amount of exercise immediately cause improvements in cognition? I wanted to find out if exercise improves cognitive function in grade 5 and 6 students after 10 minutes of mild aerobic exercise. I tested 29 students, 17 girls and 12 boys (a class).  At 11:30 the teacher ( the teacher gave them the tests to control variables) gave the students a simple addition and subtraction math test and a simple reading test that was several short paragraphs and a graphic organizer to fill out, when they were done reading. At 1:00 the teacher got them to do mild aerobic exercise for 10 minutes, jogging on the spot, jumping jacks, skipping, stride jumps, burpies and twisties. They did each exercise for 1 minute, then repeated until 10 minutes was up. Then the teacher gave them a second simple math and reading test, similar to the one before they exercised but with different addition and subtraction questions for math and different topic and questions for reading. At the end of my study I marked the tests and found in math, there was a 12.2% increase in test scores after exercise and in reading I found there was a 27% increase after exercise. The overall average increase after exercise is 19.6%! Out of all 29 students not one student average for math or reading was higher or the same before exercise. They all improved after exercise.

Controlling Variables and Bias

When I marked the exams I did not know if they were before or after exercise so I was not biased in my marking. However I could not control the students bias. They were aware of whether they exercised or not.I was also unaware of the student identity, grade, or gender.

How Could This Study Affect You?

The results of this study could be useful to teachers, students, employers, and employees. If small amounts of exercise immediately improve cognitive function, simple changes to daily routine could result in better performance on tests and more effective learning.I believe that if you were to get your students to run or do any kind of mild aerobic exercise for 10 minutes before you begin class your students will improve.

I would recommend before work or school to go for a run and you may find you are more alert and remember more of what you have been taught.

Thank- you for reading!


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