Exercise for better grades
Does it take brains or brawn to solve a challenge such as traffic dodging?
That was the premise behind a recent study that pitted athletes against non-athletic university students in a virtual-reality test of students’ ability to cross busy city roads.
The result? Maybe not surprisingly, the student athletes completed the task more successfully; however, the study says that the real surprise is that the success is not because the athletes are in better physical shape.
The study showed that the athletes glanced down the street more frequently than the non-athletes, and were able to make quicker judgment calls—in other words, they could process data more quickly and more accurately.
Researchers linked this ability to the training that athletes receive when playing sports; athletes often have to make split-second decisions in the middle of play—who to pass to, where the ball is, to run or to stop.
This on-the-spot decision-making doesn’t just make athletes superior at sports, it develops mental processing abilities that pay off in the classroom as well.
The study also indicates that regular physical activity can increase mental skills such as concentration.
Get the blood pumping! Regular physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and builds new neural connections.
Join a sports team! The instantaneous analysis and decision-making required in organized sports, as well as the ongoing practicing, help strengthen mental processing abilities and important school skills such as focus.