Brandon writes: Play for 20 minutes before your next exam

Dr. Ratey, a professor of the Harvard Medical School, has demonstrated the scientific connection between exercise and brain performance. Watch this video to see Dr. Ratey’s findings in action at Naperville Central High School. I had the great pleasure of speaking with Paul Zientarski, the PE Coordinator at Naperville, and he offers this advice, “Before your next exam, don’t cram, go for a run!”  Ideally you want to try to get your heart rate up to about 70% of maximum, his high school students aim for a heart rate of 160-190 for 20+ minutes. You could do this by running or biking to class vigorously or swimming some laps in the gym. Even jumping rope, walking or playing exuberantly in Harvard Yard will jump start your brain so you are firing on all cylinders and ready to rock your exam. In the words of my wild-style expository writing teacher William Weitzel, “Charge the tower and take no prisoners!”

You now have the key to get a free, relatively easy and down-right fun boost on you overall exam scores. I hope to see the whole campus bursting with bouncy elementary style playfulness. Just a bunch of kids running around screaming with joy, both right before the exams, as preparation, and right after the exams, as celebration!

TAG, You’re IT!

A special thanks to Dr. Ratey, Paul Zientarski and Dr. Chuck Hillman for sharing their time and materials, which allowed me to bring you this message. And a shout-out to Lindsay, Polly and Rachel for taking our final class project on movement and turning it into something life-alteringly satisfying!


  1. Posted May 19, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Quite an interesting study. In fact, I have experienced this through my own “experiments.” During heavy times of studying, I scheduled a small one mile jog on the hour (which doesn’t constitute a 20 minute workout at that heart rate,) but I did experience relief and rejuvenation. It also seemed that my metabolic system was enhanced which created an overall energy when long hours of studying tend to produce lethargy and a definite inefficiency. I felt much more concentrated and excited to persevere.

    • Posted May 21, 2010 at 3:16 am | Permalink

      Thank You for the feedback Adam 🙂 As an offshoot, if you’re interested in getting an affordable heart rate monitor, I found one by Omron (HR-100C) for under $35 online. Here is the link to the Amazon page were this heart rate monitor model has over 600 positive reviews:

      WIshing you a summer full of exercise and adventure,

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