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This section of our website is designed to highlight faculty talents and innovations, as well as to keep you informed of initiatives that impact teaching and learning.

October 2011

Amy Stoakes, Faculty Member in the Physical Fitness and Wellness Department, offers the following helpful suggestions to faculty who wish to energize their students and enhance learning!

What is "Exercise for Learning Readiness?"

"Exercise for Learning Readiness” is a concept demonstrating the relationship between physical activity and learning. Research shows that the fitness of your body is related to the fitness of your brain. In other words, the more fit you are, the more likely you are to achieve academic success!

Physical exercise is like "Miracle Grow" for the brain. It activates the release of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is a neuron growth factor that improves cognition, stimulates us to keep alert, lowers stress, improves memory, and improves test scores. Exercise feeds the brain glucose (energy) and oxygen, which helps to build better connections between the neurons that help the brain to read, write and compute. Scientists have discovered that exercise has the most effect on the Hippocampus, which is the portion of the brain that helps short term memory convert new information into long term memory... which is very important for learning!

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have formally recommended the need for physical activity in schools. In fact, some schools have designed entire classes to prepare their students for optimal learning through exercise. Lansing Community College is no exception and offers “Exercise for Learning Readiness” (PFFT 110) along with a variety of physical activity courses, such as Total Fitness, Swimming, Aerobics, etc.

What is an "activity break" and when is an appropriate time to engage in one?

An "activity break" is a physical activity designed to stimulate the learning centers of the brain. In terms of cognitive benefits, the best time to engage in an activity break is within a few hours of a difficult class or test. Research shows that students who participate in exercise about two hours before a difficult class, score better on tests when compared to students who exercised six hours earlier. However, studies also show that fit students score better on tests than unfit students, regardless of when they exercise.

What if a student does not wish to engage in an "activity break?"

Although participation in regular physical activity is ideal, the Physical Fitness and Wellness Department recognizes that regular participation can be difficult. Therefore, they recommend “Brain Break” activities. Brain Break activities take only one to two minutes and engage both sides of the brain, which improves alertness and the ability to focus. These quick activities put your brain in the optimal state for learning, and can be done in class or at home while studying.

If a faculty member is interested in incorporating an activity or brain break into their class, where do they begin?

Faculty members are encouraged to incorporate "Brain" and “Activity” breaks into their classes on a regular basis to improve student learning. Since Brain Breaks only take one to two minutes to perform, they can fit into any lesson plan. Activity breaks are ten minute exercise breaks designed to replace the "vending machine" breaks during longer lecture classes. Several brain and activity breaks are available on LCC’s website at

For more information on the benefits of exercising for learning readiness, watch for a workshop Spring Semester 2012 through the Center for Teaching Excellence!

Center for Teaching Excellence
TLC Building
400 N. Capitol, Suite 324
Lansing, MI 48933
Phone: (517) 483-1680
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