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Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

Exercise and your brain

Exercise and your brain

Many of us know exercise is good for our physical health, but did you know it can also improve your brain and help you perform better in school?

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. If that seems like too much, don’t sweat it! Even exercise as simple as walking can benefit the brain.

Here are some of the ways exercise helps your brain stay in shape.

Memory. Do you have a big test you’re preparing for? Try exercising a few hours after studying. Research shows exercising after you study can improve your ability to retain information.

In the long-term, regular exercise increases the volume of your prefrontal cortex, which is the area in the brain that deals with memory and thinking. Researchers have also found exercise can help lower risk of dementia, a condition related to memory loss.

Mental health. Studies show exercise can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Specifically, one study found that aerobic exercise, like jogging, helped patients cope with depression.

If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of depression or another mental health condition, make sure to talk to a health professional. Counseling and Psychological Services has walk-in hours or you can meet with your Health & Wellness Services provider.

Overall wellness. Regular exercise can help you sleep better, increase your energy level, and offer mental health benefits. Exercise helps you feel better all around – not just physically.

Do you need help finding fun ways to recreate or do you want to improve your overall fitness? Check out what University Recreation and the Outdoor Recreation Center have to offer.

If you’re struggling to find time to exercise, be sure to check our previous post about fitting fitness into your schedule.

Fitting fitness into your schedule

Woman stretching

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to commit to working out? Quick fixes that promise overnight weight loss are tempting, but can be difficult to maintain over the long term. So how can you start a new fitness habit that sticks? Here are some very simple ways to start squeezing fitness into your schedule.

Play. That’s right, it’s time to play and have fun! Getting active by doing something you enjoy will help you to stay motivated towards your fitness goals. There are so many ways to be active at WSU!

University Recreation offers a wide range of fitness classes, including everything from martial arts to merengue and CrossFit to yoga. Intramural sports are a great way to socialize and be active at the same time. Want to hike or climb? Check out some of the planned trips the Outdoor Recreation offers.

Fitness on the fly. Not sure you have time to commit to a regular fitness class or sport? That’s okay! Finding little opportunities to exercise throughout your day can add up fast. If you take three 10-minute breaks for exercise throughout the day, you’ll reach the 30 minutes of physical activity that many health experts recommend without a huge time commitment.

Consider squeezing in a few jumping jacks, pushups, squats, lunges, tricep dips or whatever else you feel inspired to do as a break from studying or watching TV. Or try walking to and from classes, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or getting your heart rate up with some energetic housework.

Know yourself.  Are you are morning person, or an evening person? Do you prefer going to the gym or exercising at home? In order to find a fitness routine that is sustainable for you, you’ll need to know your habits and preferences.

If you hate running, it’ll be tougher to motivate yourself for a daily jog than for other fitness activities. If you’re a night owl, exercising at 6 a.m. might just not be for you. Set yourself up for success with a routine and activity that fit your personal preferences.

Looking for more tips and tricks on fitness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle? Follow Coug Health on Facebook or check out our current calendar of workshops at CougSync!