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Do you find that regular exercise helps you to focus on academic study?

By James Dacey

Earlier this week we learned the sad news that Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, died of cancer at the age of 61. Ride made history as a crew member on the _Challenger _mission that blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 18 June 1983. She was also aboard the 13th shuttle flight, STS 41-G, which launched on 5 October 1984.

Before embarking on her space travel Ride had a strong and diverse academic background, holding degrees in physics and English from Stanford University. Then in 1989 she returned to academia by joining the University of California, San Diego as a professor of physics and director of the California Space Institute.

Alongside her academic activities, Ride of course underwent intense physical training in preparing for her space missions. And the biography on Ride’s website reveals that her passion for athletic activities began at an early age. She apparently competed in national junior tennis tournaments and was good enough to win a tennis scholarship to Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles.

Clearly, Ride is an extreme example of somebody with drive who achieved incredible things during her lifetime by devoting countless hours to both academic study and physical training. Both of these passions brought a focus to her life that helped her to achieve her goals. But I wonder whether we mere mortals could also benefit to a more modest extent from this combination of physical and mental exercise.

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We all know of people who excel in academia and sport. And we’re forever being told that regular exercise can help contribute to a balanced lifestyle – improving our concentration, sense of wellbeing, yada yada yada. But then equally I’m sure you know plenty of clever, successful, happy people who despise physical activity, can’t think of anything worse in fact. We’re interested to know where you fall in this debate, so please take part in this week’s poll

Do you find that regular exercise helps you to focus when studying?


Have your say by visiting our Facebook page, and please feel free to explain your response – or suggest something in-between – by posting a comment below the poll.

In last week’s poll we looked at the impact of science and technology on society. We asked you to select which physics-based technology to emerge from the Second World War has had the most significant impact on society. The most popular choice with 65% of the vote was modern computing, followed by nuclear power/weapons with 19%, then radar and microwave technology with 8%. In 5th and 6th place were the jet engine with 5% and rocket systems with just 3%.

Thank you to everyone who took part and we look forward to hearing from you again in this week’s poll.

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