Can Exercise Boost Test Performance? By Stacy Geant Hughes



One of my kids is about to take the ACT, a standardized test many colleges require before considering a student for admission. He has studied and practiced for several months, but it turns out that what he does the morning of the test (after a good night’s sleep and in addition to a healthy breakfast, that is!) might actually affect his score even more.


Even moderate exercise makes a difference

In a study conducted at the University of Illinois in 2012 and reported in Neuroscience, simply walking before a test boosted test performance of children. In this study, researchers asked a group of 9 and 10 year olds to rest before a test and then, separately, to walk on a treadmill for 20 minutes at just 60% of maximum heart rate before taking another academic test. Results showed that after exercise, the kids showed greater attention, memory and better performance on the test. That’s a compelling reason to encourage your kids to walk to school!


Do you need 20 minutes?

Running low on time? Even 10 minutes of moderate to intense exercise appears to improve performance on tests. Neuropsychologia reported significant improvement on reaction time and executive control, defined as the ability to carry out goal-directed behavior using complex mental processes, in subjects who completed a quick 10 minute workout on an ergometer. Reaction times were analyzed before and after just 10 minutes of aerobic exercise and showed improvement up to 40% in some tasks. Impressive!


What’s the bottom line?

Wrestling with a problem? Taking a midterm? Big test in math coming up? Interviewing for a new job? Research shows that a few laps around the block may be just the ticket to nailing it!



Stacy Geant Hughes, Owner of Core Value Pilates, LLC, Certified Pilates Instructor, Certified Pink Ribbon Program specializing in post breast cancer surgery

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