How Exercise Makes You a Better Learner

Did you know that one of the many benefits of exercise is that it improves your cognitive health and helps you learn more effectively?

According to John J. Ratey MD in his book Spark:The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

“Exercise improves learning on three levels: First, it optimizes your mindset to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus.”

– John J. Rated MD


In other words, exercising primes your brain for learning.

For example, in 2007 researchers found that people learn vocabulary 20% faster following exercise than they did without exercise.

What does that mean for you?

Simple… if you’d like to become a more effective learner, just get your heart pumping a little faster beforehand.

It doesn’t have to be too intense either. One experiment showed that cognitive flexibility can be improved after a 35 minute treadmill session at around 60-70% of your maximum heart rate (which you can calculate by subtracting your age from 220).

A few other benefits of exercise include counteracting depression, elevated endorphins, boosted dopamine, improved mood, and improved attention.

If you’re already consistent with exercise, perhaps you’ve already noticed some of these benefits for yourself.

However, if you’re not yet exercising on a regular basis, there’s no time like the present to get started!

For a little inspiration, check out this video of my parents completing a Spartan obstacle course race at the ages of 61 and 62.

My mom, Julie Gorges, author of Ten Secrets to Losing Weight After 50, wrote about her experience of completing the race in a blog post entitled “Surviving the Spartan Race After 60”

In her article she says that “You bet, after running the Spartan Race after 60, I’m wearing my medal proudly.

Here are a few links for you that hopefully can spark a little inspiration…

If you’ve been holding back on squeezing exercise into your regular routine, just remember that you can do anything you put your mind to and that even little changes can have a huge impact in the long run.

If you’d like to do a deeper dive on the surprising benefits of exercise, here are some resources that I enjoyed while doing research on this topic…

4 thoughts on “How Exercise Makes You a Better Learner”

  1. More motivation to get moving! Great blog. Loved doing the Spartan Race with you and Johnni. (Thanks for including my links.) You two are so inspiring!

  2. A great blog post, Chris!
    Loved all the information and videos.
    I better get moving if I want to learn better and get fit, right?
    So proud of you, Chris, Johnni, Julie and Scott! 🙂

  3. Nothing like exercise to get those endorphins rolling, too -:D! Appreciate the validation of my efforts. I always feel better after exercising but have to force myself to start.

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