What does “Bro-Science” have to do with real science?

How Fitness Improves School Performance

As a female who is relatively new to the exciting world of weight lifting, I know very little about “bro-science”. However, as a psychology student with a near perfect GPA and a fitness nerd who refuses to skip workouts, I was curious to learn more about the science linking exercise to better school performance.

People often look at me with my full load of classes, activities, three part-time jobs and say, “You make it look so easy”.

My work-out is critical to my productivity in work and school. My daily gym time makes me more focused, efficient, and less stressed. But this is hard to explain to people who claim, “I just don’t have the time to work-out”. The next time you hear someone use this golden excuse, here’s an argument for why they better damn well MAKE SOME TIME for that work-out.

Time for the Real Science…

Extensive research shows that physical activity improves concentration, memory, classroom behavior, and cognitive functioning (Taras, 2005). Primary school students who spend additional time spent in PE classes have higher GPA’s (Taras, 2005).

Regardless of age or gender (and even across many animal species!) the positive effects of excercise are consistent. In animal models, physical activity improves memory and learning, promotes neurogenesis, and prevents neurodegenerative disease (Ploughman, 2008).

Positive effects of excercise on the brain are especially strong for children with learning disabilities. After put on a regular excercise regimen, clinical studies found that children with cerebral palsy showed increased grey matter in frontal lobe areas associated with cognition and that children with reading disabilities had enhanced phonemic skill (Ploughman, 2008).

Cross sectional studies on over 1000 middle school students showed statistically significant relationships between fitness ability and academic achievement. Using multivariate regression analyses, numbers revealed that scores on standardized tests for math and english increased as the number of physical fitness tests passed increased (Chomitz, 2009). The results were extremely significant, with p<0.0001 for increased scores on math tests and p<0.05 for better scores on English tests (Chomitz, 2009).

If that’s not science enough, here is one study that really shocked me with how effective excercise is for academic performance.

Even if you are not a kid in PE class or someone with a cerebral palsy, you can probably relate to the feeling of having ADD or ADHD. Excercise can help reduce ADD/ADHD symptons.

This study showed that test scores for attention and memory improve directly after exercising…even after just 10 minutes of excercise! (Budde, 2008).

So for ALL OF YOU living in this century who have difficulty focusing and concentrating, try hopping onto a treadmill or resistive machine (for as little as ten minutes) to rid of yourself of your ADD symptons.

Skipping a workout at the gym in order to study won’t get you better grades. In fact, the opposite is probably true.

Ready…Set…Go get that A!

Taras, H. (2005). Physical activity and student performance at school. Journal of school health, 75(6), 214–218.

Budde, H., Voelcker-Rehage, C., Pietraßyk-Kendziorra, S., Ribeiro, P., & Tidow, G. (2008). Acute coordinative exercise improves attentional performance in adolescents. Neuroscience letters, 441(2), 219–223.

Ploughman, M. (2008). Exercise is brain food: the effects of physical activity on cognitive function. Developmental neurorehabilitation, 11(3), 236–240.

Chomitz, V. R., Slining, M. M., McGowan, R. J., Mitchell, S. E., Dawson, G. F., & Hacker, K. A. (2009). Is there a relationship between physical fitness and academic achievement? Positive results from public school children in the northeastern United States. Journal of School Health, 79(1), 30–37.