Exercising pays dividends to students’ brains
UREC attendance and GPA are positively correlated, according to a study
Originally published Aug. 31, 2017 in the Daily Evergreen.
By Ryan Mosher, Evergreen reporter
Regular exercise has been known to positively influence physical health, but it is also beneficial to academics.
University Recreation has been collecting data for over 10 years that shows this positive correlation between physical activity and students’ GPA. Physical activity has been proven to benefit both the body and the brain. UREC provides a variety of sports, workout equipment and activities, available to all students.
Some of UREC’s offerings are in the Student Recreation Center, where students can run, weight lift and play a variety of sports for exercise and enjoyment. Ramon Sodano, coordinator of fitness services and education at UREC, spoke about the benefits of being active.
“There is a very strong correlation between exercise and academic performance,” Sodano said.
Contrary to popular belief, Sodano said the brain continues to produce new neurons. Exercise helps produce a protein that aids the process in your brain that grows and develops neurons. Exercise is twice as valuable for the brain as it is for the body, Sodano said. Physical activity before a test is beneficial and will help students perform better.
“We offer so much free programming for people to try things out that they wouldn’t have in the past, that’s going to help them develop and grow as a person,” Sodano said. “It really translates to other parts of their life . . . it helps build the person.”
Exercise has been shown to quickly improve moods in many people dealing with depression. Physically-active people who had regular vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop depression or anxiety in the next five years, compared to those with a more sedentary lifestyle.
Studies have shown that exercise increases cognitive function, as well as alertness and concentration. Exercise also produces endorphin’s in the brain that aid sleep and in turn, reduce stress. A survey conducted in 1983 revealed that 85 percent of the primary care physicians surveyed prescribed exercise to help depression.
For students who are intimidated or nervous about starting an exercise routine, UREC has made more introductory programs available, Sodano said.
Sessions with personal trainers are offered at the SRC.