Wellness Wednesday: Finding Time to Work Out During Midterms

By Kelsey Meany

During the midterm slam, it’s only human to let fitness fall to the wayside. But exercise is even more important during these weeks of academic hell because it wards off weight gain from all of those snacks that just hop in your mouth while studying and can aid in alleviating stress. According to U.S. News and World Report, just 30 minutes on the treadmill can drastically increase levels of “soothing” brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Apart from keeping you calm (and carrying on?) exercise can actually improve learning as well, according to the same article by U.S. News and World Report, by making new brain cells and establishing new connections between them.

But when crunched for maximum study time, how can a student find a way to get a workout in? It’s simple: combine them in one of these three ways.

1. The elliptical is your friend

It’s not going to be the best workout you’ve ever had in your life, but try doing some of your studying on the elliptical machine. It’s a bit harder than walking on the treadmill, but has the same amount of stability in terms of actually being able to read, highlight or whatever the case may be. If you have to watch lectures, bring your iPad and get your lecture on. It’s not going to be a high intensity workout if you’re actually going to study, but it’s much better than sitting on your couch with a bag of Fritos and a study guide.

2. Challenge yourself

Can’t remember what happened in Tinker v. Des Moines? 20 crunches. Your numbers just aren’t making sense on that math problem? 20 push-ups. Another way to get in some exercise while studying is to make bargains. For every question wrong, you’ll have to give something exercise-related in exchange whether its jumping jacks, lunges or squats. This is a great way to combine the two activities and, hey, if you don’t get an A on the test, you might get some great abs instead.

3. Be creative

Online I’ve read about people doing everything from recording their own voice reading the notes (which helps you learn it in the first place by reading it aloud) and listening to it at the gym to pulling out a wad of notecards to look over between tests. What’s most important is to do what works for you.

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Many people disagree with doing both at the same time, but getting to the gym is better than not getting there at all – even if it sacrifices a little study time in the process. The brain needs a break, too, so consider taking a break from studying all together and coming back to it. It doesn’t take long to get the heart rate up. A quick 30 minute run can make you refreshed and ready to study more. Always remember not to sacrifice a healthy diet during exams as well. Boredom snacking is at its worst during studying time – but try replacing that bag of chips with a bag of baby carrots just for the week instead.

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