Wellness Market Research | Review #1



Reviews on Wellness Research
Exercise and the Brain: How Fitness Impacts Learning
By Nancy Barile

Based on the book “Spark, the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”
by Dr. John J. Ratey, an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

Review Summary by Nina Batra
Market Research, Adaptive Instruction

The is a summary of the article by Nancy Barile, Award-Winning Teacher, M.A.Ed. which is based on her study of a book by Dr. John J. Ratey. It explores connection between exercise and the brain, providing evidence that exercise is directly proportional to performance and aligns the brain to peak performance in all areas.

1. Exercise to Improve Learning

Exercise improves alertness and motivation, then encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which helps in assimilating new information and also develops new nerve cells from stem cells. In a research it is found that those with higher fitness levels achieve higher test scores.

Workouts make the brain ready to learn and also helps in retaining info. The Illinois district, USA had introduced an early morning workout program called Zero Hour, which showed remarkable performance in fitness and academics. The theory helps to teach kids to maintain their own health, having long term benefits. Physical activity has a positive impact on memory, focus and classroom etiquette.

2. Exercise to Improve Mental Health

a) Stress

During school days, students face pressure from all angles, parents, peers, teachers. Exercise controls the emotional and physical stress, working at cellular levels. Physical activity, apart from warding off ill effects of stress, reverses them as well. Students who participate in physical activity are more confident and socially active.

b) Anxiety

Panic attacks are common, being an intense form of anxiety. Aerobic exercise reduces anxiety and builds up their confidence. Dr Ratey advises that exercise reduces muscle tension and teaches a different outcome to the regular panic situation, which normally would have been a worrying one.

c) Depression

Aerobic exercise has a positive influence on depression, as endorphins produced in the brain during exercise, contribute to a general well being feeling. Also dopamine is released which is a mood booster and can do wonders.


Students often suffer from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in the school environment. Dr Ratey advises structured exercise like martial arts, gymnastics and skateboarding to help as among the best treatment strategies for ADHD.


The brain and body challenged together is better than just aerobic activity because sports activates brain areas that controls balance, timing, switching, error correction, inhibition and intense focus. Providing students with challenging fitness program, has various benefits and is best for body and brain health.

Link to the publication: How Fitness Impacts Learning