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Emily Werner is the ASI student manager of fitness and wellness at the Cal Poly Recreation Center and Mustang News columnist. She is a senior kinesiology major and a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).


Ditch the Starbucks line and reschedule that Dexter Lawn nap for another day. An alternative, and more beneficial option for improving your energy and focus is exercise. Exercising for only 10 minutes boosts your brain functioning, increases focus, and improves problem-solving abilities.

Before you take an exam or have to write a paper, go for a 10-minute walk or ride a stationary bike. Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate and circulation to your brain, allowing you to process information faster. Exercise also increases reaction times and has a number of long-term, positive effects on the brain.

A study by Ashna Samani and Matthew Heath in Neuropsychologia asked participants to perform 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Pre- and post- exercise executive control was studied, and there was a proven increase in functioning.

The long-term benefits of exercise are not always visible. Completing aerobic exercise consistently for 30 minutes a day results in neuron growth, increased neurological activity, improved stress coping, and structural improvements in areas associated with cognitive control and memory. Exercising has been shown to decrease some of the cognitive impairments that come with aging.

If you’re looking to boost your energy levels and improve your attention and reaction times, don’t grab an energy drink, increase your heart rate! Even 10 minutes of exercise will produce increased cognition to help you stay awake and alert while studying.

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