Studying isn’t healthy. It’s good for the brain, yes, but as far as the definition of ‘healthy’ goes, sitting or lying down, craning our necks to read a book or our notes for hours on end isn’t. The common injuries consistent with desk chairs and computer monitors (sore backs, sore eyes) associated with long study sessions for the GMAT, GRE or LSAT are detrimental to effective learning. It’s also been proven that studying with brief distractions (10 minutes of every hour or so) will help increase the brain’s “attention resources”. So consider these workouts to help burn calories, increase productivity, and get you out of the library for a brief, but study-benefiting, workout.
Under-cover, indoor workouts. It’s tough to get to a gym every day and they can be expensive, but exercise isn’t. All you need to do to get away from the desk is to practice these secret exercises perfect for the library or office. Stairs: The stairs are not only a great form of exercise but even admissible in public, without gym clothes. Jog up and down the stairs as many times as needed, get some water, and back to work. Planking and other stretching/light Yoga can also be done out of sight (1). Just 10 minutes for a break from studying can help clear the mind, tone the body and boost productivity.
The “nature” brain-recharge. If a light sweat isn’t the desired goal for your 10 minute workout (maybe you have a date later), research has proven just going for a walk can have significant benefits to your studying, especially in the woods/nature. Why the woods? An old idea labelled “attention restoration theory” says that, through features of the environment, the natural world engages your attention in a ‘bottom-up’ fashion – effortless attention engaged by nature (2). The artificial world demands active attention (to avoid getting hit by cars or to follow street signs) which is controlled by cognitive processes. Since activities like studying and writing also require active attention, a study break in the artificial world isn’t as effective a type of rest. When your brain needs a rest, skip the urban jungle and find the nearest forest, park, or piece of nature and explore.
Go for a bike ride. Biking is not only great exercise, but it offers a few additional benefits. A bike ride study break gives you the opportunity to take care of an errand, pick up a snack, get a visual break from the a screen, and fresh air. Oxygen is a key component of refreshing the brain. Increasing blood flow to the brain is an easy way to help fuel those long study sessions. When your brain is operating at optimum levels (especially during regular work-outs), the hippocampus will grow new and develop brain cells, which acts as boost for learning and memory (3). Use the bike to boost your study break.
Studying for a big exam, like the LSAT, GRE or GMAT involves covering a lot of material in a short period of time. Effectively learning enough material every day is an important part of a viable study plan, and a short exercise break can be greatly beneficial while studying. If you find that your study plans aren’t going to plan and want help with the your test preparation, feel free to contact us a www.quantumtestprep.com for help with your exam studies.