It is well known that exercise contributes to physical health and this has been clearly established. Studies have shown the relationship between physical activity and cognitive health in older adults but, not much has been done with young people.
Charles Hillman,PhD. from University of Illinois has done research in this area. His research involves the studies of children age 9 to 10. High-fit kids showed greater hippocampal brain volume, which positively affects how well they perform on certain memory tests, and greater basal ganglia volume, which is related to cognitive control functions underlying action. Translation: bigger brain that thinks better.In one of his studies people were found to perform better on difficult memory tests 30 minutes after doing cardio. They are not sure why. It may be due to increased blood flow to the brain and it improves your ability to learn new things. Preliminary data of his research has shown after exercise, more attentional resources are allocated to tasks, cognitive processing speed is increased, and cognitive performance improves. So long term exercise shows brain changes that help cognitively and even one time cardio sessions help brain performance.
What does this mean for you as a nursing student or pre-nursing student? It suggests that you should park at the far side of campus and briskly walk to your classes. Utilize a 15-20 minute walk to gain the benefits described above. You will probably be carrying a backpack that will aid you in your cardiac exertion and capacity. Consider a walking or jogging lunch break. This will wake you up for afternoon and make it easier to remember and process the information. So instead of spending sleepy non-productive time in your seat you will be utilizing the time and maximizing your brain power.
Meet early with your study group for exercise or a jog and review session. They will help you be accountable , you will be more likely to show up and exercise. Your brain will be ready to retain the information better!
Many of you have heard of the “Nursing School 20″. Meaning 20 pound weight gain! Nursing school is intense and takes lots of study time. Students tend to eat while they study and are sitting more which contributes to the weight gain. There may not be as much time to fix nutritional meals, you are inclined to use fast food restaurants. The above physical activity mentioned will help with weight gain as well as assist cognitive function. Oh and don’t forget a bigger brain! A three for one benefit!