19 May Exam-ercise: Moving towards improved marks for students
Are you a slave to the student life?
If your only cardio at the moment is running out of time to submit assignments, you may be surprised to discover the benefits that exercise has regarding academic performance. Find out how to Exercise Right for student life.
1. Your brain is a battery – recharge it regularly
The ability to sustain your attention is closely linked to academic performance, particularly when studying for an upcoming exam or filtering through research papers for an assignment. Research has found that individuals with lower cardiorespiratory fitness have poorer attention capacities and make more mistakes than their fit counterparts.
It’s not too late to work on your fitness either! Make the most of this connection by reading your study materials on an exercise bike, or taking a 10 minute brisk walk before you hit the books. The immediate increase in brain flow gives you a hit of oxygen, and is accompanied by feelings of mental sharpness and alertness.
2. Take breaks and use them wisely
Did you know that the average adult can only focus on a task for 20 minutes? Not only does sitting for extended periods impact your fat-burning and metabolic health, but it’s likely that you’ll become unproductive after that time. Interestingly, studies have found that the more active you are to begin with, the more physically active your breaks need to be to offset the dangers of prolonged sitting.
Keep it simple and break up your study load by thinking thirty: every 30 minutes, do 30 chair squats, 30 heel raises and 30 seconds of jogging on the spot. You’ll give yourself an academic edge, whilst keeping negative health outcomes at bay!
3. Don’t underestimate the power of posture
Can you really ‘fake it until you make it’? A typical student’s posture normally makes us think of being hunched over, head down, often with a confused look on their face and a tight grip on their pen. Amy Cuddy, renowned for her Ted Talk on “Power Postures”, sparked the idea of assuming a ‘powerful’ pose – an expansive, open position with chin up, chest forward, hands on hips. This pose, amazingly, has been found to increase the production of testosterone (linked with the ability to take on a challenge), whilst decreasing cortisol (the body’s primary stress hormone). The reverse of this was also true for sustained periods in ‘closed’ postures – crossing of the legs and arms, making yourself appear smaller.
Power up: before you tackle a challenging task or enter your next exam, stand in the power position for one minute – it will actually change your biochemistry!
Share this article with anybody you know who is studying – unless you are in fact a student yourself – in which case, you now have an unfair advantage!