There is much talk about the health benefits of exercise, but did you know that exercise also helps in learning? A one-hour walk activates the brain, and the effect endures through the next day. Read how you can keep moving also on remote learning days.


  • Start your remote learning day with outdoor exercise, or at the very least, with stretching.
  • While taking part in remote learning, do not sit for long periods of time without a break. If the lecture lasts longer than half an hour, stand up and stretch while listening, do a few knee-bends, or rotate your arms.
  • Turn your camera on so that others can see you exercise. It might encourage them to be more active.
  • Pop outside between lectures. Take a coffee break outside, for example, and breathe the outdoor air.
  • Get on the move when the studying is over. Take a walk, or ride a bicycle with a friend, for example.

An active lifestyle and regular exercise keep a student's brain in shape and functional. Remaining sedentary, meanwhile, is a risk to brain health.
Exercise also makes it easier to learn new things. For that reason, it is important not to forget physical activity even when studying is hectic.

“Exercise makes learning easier on many different time scales. Exercising just before a demanding mental effort, such as an exam, improves exam performance. Even a short, intense exercise session is sufficient”, says brain researcher Minna Huotilainen.

Exercise while learning

Exercising before and after a learning event activates the brain and helps your memory function better. In addition, an active lifestyle maintains good memory and learning processes in the brain.

“The best recipe includes short daily exercise in the morning and evening, for example, a walk to the campus, and in addition to this, taking part in a hobby involving intense exercise a few times a week”, Huotilainen says.

It is also a good idea to exercise while learning, if possible. Huotilainen says that exercise affects the brain in a way that makes it easier to maintain a state of alertness, and learning works better. Exercise promotes learning by causing changes in neurotransmitters in the brain, and in the nerve growth factor.

“In remote learning I recommend exercise while listening to instruction. For example, you can stand and stretch while listening.”

Don't forget recovery exercise

The effects of exercise on the brain and on learning vary according to the duration and intensity of the exercise. Intense exercise lasting just a few minutes improves your state of alertness and your ability to learn, and the benefits seem to persist from half an hour to a few hours.

A one-hour walk, or other long-lasting exercise can affect learning as late as the next day. The effects of more intense sport activity, such as floorball, or running, are even greater. In addition, it can help you sleep better, which improves learning results even more.

“It is still good to know your limits. Excessive exercise nearly every day can be risky. It can lead to a state from which recovery does not happen, and the quality of sleep suffers. Then learning also becomes more difficult. Relaxing exercise that promotes recovery, such as walking, stretching, or yoga are also needed”, Huotilainen points out.

Continuity in exercise is most important

Which helps the brain more, endurance training or strength training? According to Huotilainen, some brain studies suggest that the effect of endurance training on memory and learning has been greater than that of strength training, but in other studies the effect has been the same for both.

What is most important is continuity - finding the type of exercise that is best for you”, Huotilainen says. The versatility of exercise also helps both the body and the brain.

“It is important to challenge your muscles and occasionally to do some exercises requiring strength. In addition, oxygen uptake needs to be actively challenged. It is good for a student to feel winded several times a week – even if it comes from just running to catch a bus.