Can Exercise Boost Teen’s Academic Performance?

Can Exercise Boost Teen’s Academic Performance?

Teens are under a great deal of pressure to perform in school. They are asked to study for long hours and to memorize many different facts for tests. Some of these activities take them away from the very thing that could help them improve their academic performance: exercise.

Exercise and Memory

Exercise has been shown to improve memory in human subjects. Exactly how it does this is unclear but it must have something to do with the activity of exercise in strengthening the memory pathways of the brain. Instead of cramming facts into their heads without physical release, teens would do better to take the facts they have to memorize and mull them over on a good run or swimming session.

The facts can be memorized while exercising and can improve physical health at the same time. By reducing stress, memory can be enhanced through exercising and the teen can do better on their test than if they struggled to memorize the facts in the absence of the stress-relieving exercise.

Exercise and Sleep

It is well known that memory is laid down in your sleep and the best way to get that healthful sleep is to exercise. Most exercise and sleep specialists do not recommend exercising right before sleep as this can be activating and can interfere with sleep.

Instead, exercise about 4-5 hours before going to sleep and study right before sleep. The things the teen has studied before sleep will be laid down as part of their long-term memory during their sleep time. This improves the number of things memorized that are permanently in the brain and available to the teen for the test.

Many studies have shown that it is better to get some sleep before taking a test rather than cramming all night long. The best way to get that sleep is to engage in a regular exercise program and tie in the exercise, memorization, and sleep in a fluid way that improves academic performance.

Exercise and Stress Relief

Studying for exams or cramming for tests can be stress provoking. As it turns out, the more you cram, the less actually goes into your brain, especially if you are stressed out by studying. It is far better to take a break from cramming and reduce your level of stress. Some people reduce stress by eating, watching television, or reading a non-text book. Exercise, however, can do dual duty by reducing stress and keeping you from being too stationary. You can exercise to reduce stress without packing on the pounds by eating away your stress.

The best way to reduce stress and improve academic performance is to step away from the books and take a walk around the block or take a half hour jog or swim. These things can lessen stress so that you are more motivated to go back to learning once the exercise is over with. Your mind will be clearer and you will be ready to go back to whatever it was you were working on, feeling rested and relaxed after your exercise is over with.


Exercise can indeed improve a teen’s academic performance. It only takes about thirty minutes a day of aerobic exercise to improve sleep, which will help lay down the pathways from short-term memory to long-term memory.

Exercise can reduce the stress of studying so that the teen is better able to go back to studying after the exercise is over with.

Exercise can improve memory outright so that you can memorize facts as you exercise. Studying alone without taking a break to do something like exercise is a recipe for poor memory and lack of motivation—both things that can harm a teen’s ability to do well in school. 16

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