If You Want to Learn—Get Your Body Moving
by Guila Muir
Anyone who jogs regularly will tell you that they feel sharper both emotionally and mentally after a run. But did you know that when you exercise, you are also pumping up your ability to learn, think creatively, and perform better in intellectually demanding situations?
According to a fascinating new book, “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” (John R. Ratey & Eric Hagerman, Little, Brown and Company, 2008), the science is in. Not only can exercise work at least as well as antidepressants to improve moods, it improves our ability to learn.
One 2007 study showed that participants learned vocabulary words 20% faster following exercise than they did before exercise. Another experiment in 2007 revealed that adults’ cognitive flexibility improved after one 35– minute treadmill session at a moderate pace.
What do these finding mean for teachers, trainers, and other HRprofessionals?
1. Participants in a training situation aren’t learning with their heads alone. If they don’t get a chance to move, their learning is hindered.
2. Take frequent breaks in any learning situation.
3. Encourage out-of-class physical activity.
4. Make training active—get people out of their chairs and doing something relevant!