Whether you are in school, at work, on vacation or just relaxing, summer is the perfect season to get active. The sunny days even entice the biggest workaholics and couch potatoes among us to get outside and enjoy the weather. Everyone knows how great exercise is for keeping your body in shape, but exercise can also do wonders for your brain. Exercise usually isn’t the first thing mentioned when it comes to improving your grades, but its benefits may surprise you. 

People who exercise regularly have shown to have a larger prefrontal and medial temporal cortex volume. These parts of the brain are associated with thinking and memory. Many common student activities such as pulling all-nighters and having a few too many drinks can kill your much needed brain cells. Exercise can aid in neurogenesis and repopulate your brain with new brain cells. Your mental health can also be improved through exercise. Exercise creates increased blood flow to certain parts of your brain. This can result in the reduction in prevalence and severity of many types of mental health issues.

I know…watching a few more episodes of that Netflix show you are binging seems so much more enticing than exercising. Well, here are a few fun, active ideas that will make your exercise more exciting:   

1. Biking

Summer is usually the only season that Canadians can get out to ride without battling the rain, ice and snow. Whether exploring local trails or zooming along the road, biking adds adrenaline and scenery into your exercise. Biking also can be an alternative to driving or bussing. You can use your commute to work as a way to get in your daily exercise. Save on gas, help the environment, and improve your health all in one easy step!

2. Join a team

Whether you are a soccer, ultimate or volleyball person, joining a team can distract you from the fact that you are exercising. Often, when I am playing one of my favourite sports, I am so distracted with trying to score that I don’t realize how much I am exerting myself. Joining sports teams is also a great way to make new friends.

3. Swimming

Swimming is a whole body, low impact, calming exercise that builds muscle, strength, and improves cardiovascular abilities. For these reasons, swimming is often classified as the best overall exercise for your health, beating out running and biking, which are higher impact and not whole body exercises. Find a local pool, or if you’re extra lucky, a lake or ocean and swim your way through summer.

4. Go for a hike

This is an ideal weekend activity, so grab a friend and explore! Immerse yourself in nature and challenge yourself on new terrain. Create a list of recommended hikes in your local area and set a date you want to complete them by. This will help motivate you to explore the great outdoors.

Make the most of this beautiful season and get active. Even if you only have thirty minutes to get in a quick run or brisk walk while cramming for a final, this exercise break will help boost your memory and concentration. Exercise breaks— short, long or in between—will improve your quality of studying and enhance both your marks and health!

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