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If You Want to Learn—Get Your Body Moving


If You Want to Learn—Get Your Body Moving

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!


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