As a student, you probably already move around plenty during the day: changing classes, PE, maybe walking to and from school. Did you know that all that physical activity is not only good for your body but good for your brain, too? The well-studied benefits of physical activity on your mind include:
- Increased blood flow to your brain, helping it work more efficiently
- Better memory retention
- Lower levels of mental stress
In 2014, a study of 9- and 10-year-old children showed that those who engaged in more physical activity during the day showed significantly higher memory retention and brain cell growth than their less-active peers.
What does this mean for you as a young entrepreneur? And how much movement do you need to reap the benefits?
MOVEMENT DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN “EXERCISE”
Let’s get this out of the way right now: not everyone has the time, energy, or ability to do what our culture considers “exercise.” You don’t need to run two miles every day, complete a 1-hour power yoga class five times a week, or lift massive weights to reap the benefits of movement. You don’t need to push yourself to the point of exhaustion, sweat until you dehydrate, or hurt yourself.
What can physical movement look like?
- Walking to the end of your block and back
- Seated cardio, with or without the leg movements
- 2-5 pushups or jumping jacks
- Walking up a flight of stairs
- 5 minutes of stretching
- A few reps of seated bicep curls and tricep presses with light (1-2 lb) weights
While all the things listed above technically qualify as “exercise,” it’s only in the very loosest of terms. Doing even one of the movements suggested above will get your body moving and get that blood and oxygen pumping to your brain, but they shouldn’t wear you out or take up much of your time.
BENEFITS FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS
So, if the suggestions we mentioned aren’t going to bulk up your muscles, help you lose weight, or turn you into a world-class yogi, then what’s the point?
1. LET YOUR BRAIN BREATHE
Just like the rest of your body’s cells, your brain needs oxygen to function well. When you move around you breathe harder, which brings more oxygen into your lungs, which gets pumped to your brain. The more oxygen your brain has, the better it works. In terms of entrepreneurship, this means making better decisions faster!
2. BUILD A BIGGER BRAIN
Regular physical activity actually makes your brain bigger. Ok, not literally. But studies show that getting in some good physical movement every day helps your brain grow new cells. And since we here at The Kantner Foundation know that our young entrepreneurs are high-achieving college-bound students, that means giving yourself the biggest brain you can get!
3. GET LASER-FOCUSED
More studies show that even one round of intentional movement, or “acute exercise,” can have positive effects on your brain. When you make an effort to move your body, your prefrontal cortex lights up and helps you focus more and pay better attention. In other words, a few jumping jacks or a quick dash up the stairs of your school before your AP exams might give you an edge!
4. BE MORE CHILL
We know that young entrepreneurs have plenty to stress about: school, sports, college applications, friends, family, volunteering, working, and running your own business. Chronic stress – stressing out without taking a break – can affect your brain. It can make you anti-social, kill brain cells, and even shrink your prefrontal cortex, that lovely part of your brain that helps you stay focused and learn new things. Chronic stress can also affect your body by increasing adrenaline, which can raise your blood pressure, as well as increase the production of cortisol faster than your body can release it, which negatively affects your immune system, reproductive system, digestive system, and your body’s natural healthy growth.
Physical movement is the best way to fight stress. Exercise decreases the number of stress receptors in your brain – you feel less stressed when you move around. Physical movement also releases endorphins, feel-good chemicals that make you feel, well, good.
In other words, getting up and moving around as often as you can will help you cope with everything going on in your life so you can be your best self all around.
HOW MUCH ACTIVITY DO YOU NEED?
As we said earlier, being a student means you probably already get a good amount of movement every day just living your life. Even those of you who aren’t on a sports team likely spend the day walking from class to class, going up and down the stairs of your school, and taking PE at least a few times a week (if not every day).
But there’s a large difference between moving around because you have to and moving around because it makes you feel good. If PE’s not cutting it for you, try doing something before or after school that’s just for you. Do you like swimming but don’t have a pool? Check out student membership prices at a nearby YMCA or gym. Can’t stand sweating? YouTube has an endless supply of free yoga videos ranging from simple 5-minute morning stretches to one-hour advanced classes. Have limited mobility? Work the parts of your body you can with arms-only “jumping” jacks or “running” your legs while seated. You can even turn on some good music and dance for a few minutes! Whatever you choose, make it fun so that you want to return to it as often as possible. This should feel like a break, like you’re shaking off negative energy and filling yourself up with positivity and strength. When you’re done, you should feel energized and refreshed!
Finding the success you deserve as a young entrepreneur means staying focused on your work, learning what you need to know, keeping up your energy, and maintaining a positive attitude. A little bit of purposeful, fun movement every day can be exactly what you need to get there!
If you are a high school student in Florida with a passion for entrepreneurship, click here to find out more about the Kantner Foundation’s college scholarship program.