Can exercise make you a better student?

I am the last person on Earth who should be giving any advice on exercise. Exercise has been my mortal enemy for as long as I can remember. I have tried several times to overcome this enemy and to start working out regularly, but I am sorry to say I have fallen short every time. I have at most done only a couple of years of reasonably regular workouts, and that too, not consecutive years. 

In my defence, I have done my best to stay motivated about working out. To that end, I have read and watched what feels like every article, book, and documentary about staying motivated and consistent when working out. So, I guess you could consider me somewhat knowledgeable, at least theoretically, when it comes to working out and the benefits of exercising. 

The benefits of exercising

It cannot be disputed; exercising is undoubtedly beneficial. Whether it is your cardiovascular health, bone health, or even decreasing the risk of diabetes, the benefits of regular exercising are many, and it should be a part of everyone’s lives. But for the majority of us (and I can personally attest to this), health benefits are seldom a motivator for us to go to the gym.

Today, a vast majority of us have a short attention span. As a result, we need things done quickly, require immediate results, or we lose interest. So, focus on the immediate benefits we get from working out to remain motivated, such as the feeling of wellness we get immediately after an exercise session.  

Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.

Peter McWilliams, New York Times bestselling author

In the first job I had after university, I remember my boss telling me – “If you are comfortable, you are not growing”. It is something that struck me as a truth to be remembered. Of course, there are other sayings – “no pain, no gain”, “feel the burn”, and of course, you hear many stories of top athletes who embraced pain and suffered to reach the pinnacle of their sport. 

No pain. No gain.

If you are not already someone who works out regularly, then in no way am I asking you to go to this extreme for your workout – that would just be unrealistic. But when you start to feel the burn, let it motivate you to push just a little further, and before you know it, you will be running your first marathon. 

Pushing beyond your comfort is something that you learn very quickly when you work out regularly, and you can use your experience from this to push yourself out of the comfort zone in other aspects of your life. You have already seen the benefits of doing so.

So how does exercising help you become a better student?

Improved cognitive function

According to a study by the International Journal of Sports Medicine – research shows that aerobic exercise enhances cognitive function, specifically executive functions. These results provide partial support for the benefit of acute aerobic exercise on cognitive flexibility.

It works, even if you just go a couple of times a week

According to a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology – regular exercise is beneficial, even if it is two or three times a week. Some of the benefits include:

  • Significant decreases in perceived stress, emotional distress, smoking, alcohol, and caffeine consumption
  • Increase in healthy eating, emotional control, maintenance of household chores, attendance to commitments, monitoring of spending, and an improvement in study habits

Discipline 

 You have to work at building discipline

The above point shows that exercising, even if it is two or three times a week, helps build discipline and self-regulatory behaviour. Discipline helps in completing tasks and assignments before a deadline. Without working on cultivating your discipline, you will miss deadlines and fall behind on completing other tasks. If you practice going to a gym regularly and eating healthier, you will cultivate and develop your discipline. After all, discipline is also a muscle that needs to be worked on. 

Keystone habit

Keystone habits are habits that automatically lead to multiple positive behaviours and positive effects in your life. These habits spark chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.

Charles Duhigg (author of The Power of Habit)
Charles Duhigg at TechCocktail in 2012

According to research, regular exercise, at least three times a week, is a keystone habit. It acts as a trigger that helps to start eating better, be more productive, have more patience, be less stressed, drink less alcohol, reduce smoking, and study better. 

So, does exercising help you become a better student by helping you study better? Studies have shown that it does. 

Will you be able to see a tangible impact? I don’t know. I guess it will depend on the individual.

But if there is one thing that I have taken away from this, it is to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. It is the only way to grow. 

Push yourself beyond your comfort zone

If you work out regularly, share your experience with us on staying motivated and cultivating this habit. Comment are open. 

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Sahil Devasia

Sahil Devasia has a bachelor’s degree in Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science with an MBA in Marketing. He has a wide gamut of professional experience, from the Merchant Marines to the Banking and Finance industries and has been associated with Robert Kennedy College since 2015.  His favourite song is Bon Jovi’s - It's My Life and his ambition in life is to be the “World’s best Dad”. 

11 Comments

  1. Aaron Annan

    Kindly throw more light on how I can be a better student, really important to me. Having a retentive memory help me out please thanks.

    • Hi Aaron,

      🙂 We cover a wide range of topics in our blog posts. Some of them are tips and suggestions on how to become a more effective student/employee. So, please go through our older posts and also continue to follow our posts.

  2. Myra Javier Atendido

    Dear Aaron,
    With regard to your question, how can you become a better student? Let me share with you my journey to this wonderful school, the University of Salford/ Robert Kennedy College. My background has nothing to do with International Commercial Law Since I am a physician (medical doctor-pediatrician), but I am passionate about taking this course. So I gather my courage and apply to the school. The first thing they ask me is why we should accept you when you don’t have any law background. My answer is I will do my best, study so hard and pray to God that He will guide me in my journey. And by God’s miracle, I was accepted. Most of my classmates are famous lawyers who are very good in their field, some of them are CEOs, CFO, of a particular company and here I am a physician with no background in law and commercial transaction. All I have is passion, dedication, and commitment to do my best to finish this course (Masters of Law in International Commercial Law).
    What I do is I listen to the lectures at least four times, I pay attention to what the professors are saying, if I don’t understand specific words, I google them. After each lecture, I listen to classical music, relaxing piano music, and yoga music to stimulate my brain. I usually study during the night when it is very quiet until early morning. I really push myself to prove to the people in the University that they are not wrong in accepting me. I motivated myself to have a study habit. I try to submit my assignment ahead of time, participate in group discussions and follow the advice of our class supervisor. Most importantly, I always pray to God to give me wisdom in my study.
    Having said that, I do hope that what I have said can motivate you to achieve your goal.
    I finished my Masteral in International Commercial Law with DISTINCTION
    last march 15, 2021
    I received my certificate last April 16, 2021.

  3. Myra Javier Atendido

    Dear Prof Sahil,
    Welcome, It gives me so much pride and joy to become a part of this excellent school, The University of Salford/Robert Kennedy College.
    Allow me to thank also our Dean Dr. David Costa, our Professor Dr. Ferdinando Bruno, who is also my supervisor in my dissertation, Dr. Nigel, all our professors, Vice-Chancellor Helen Marshall, student care, askUs Salford, librarian, and all the staff in the University/College who are very kind, and very dedicated to all the student.
    To all of you, my utmost gratitude, you all remind me of how lucky I am to be a part of this great institution.

    Respectfully yours,
    Myra Javier Atendido, MD. DPPS, LLM ICL

  4. Myra Javier Atendido

    Dear Prof Sahil,
    Welcome, It gives me so much pride and joy to become a part of this excellent school, The University of Salford/Robert Kennedy College. Allow me to thank also our Dean Dr. David Costa, our Professor Dr. Ferdinando Bruno, who is also my supervisor in my dissertation, Dr. Nigel, all our professors, Vice-Chancellor Helen Marshall, student care, askUs Salford, librarian, and all the staff in the University/College who are very kind, and very dedicated to all the student.
    To all of you, my utmost gratitude, you all remind me of how lucky I am to be a part of this great institution.
    Respectfully yours,
    Myra Javier Atendido, MD. DPPS, LLM ICL

  5. dalton lovell

    Myra, your comments regarding your success in a discipline foreign to you, is a source of motivation for me. I have just started my MBA, the first module begins tomorrow June 07th and your story gives me the confidence that with hard work and dedication I will be successful. thanks for sharing.

  6. Myra Javier Atendido

    Dear Dalton,
    Good morning, first I wish you well in your study. I know that you can do it. With, passion determination, and willingness to learn, you will be able to succeed, most especially with the Grace of God everything is possible. As we grow older, we don’t stop learning. We continue to evolve. We motivate our brains to learn more so that someday, in our own little way, we might be able to contribute something to the society we live in. I am now taking an advanced course online in Immunology- Oncology and Novel Therapies for Chronic Inflammation, Auto Immunity, and Allergy at Harvard Medical School.
    But This is one thing that I can say for sure we are lucky to be part of this wonderful, wonderful school. The University of Salford/ Robert Kennedy College

    Best Regard,
    Myra

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