When studying for assessments, good nutrition and regular training sessions can be put on the back burner as you prioritise long days of strenuous reading and preparation. It’s common to get into the habit of munching on convenient, high processed foods, and cancelling gym sessions to spend time in the books.
But, good nutrition and having that daily sweat session are what’s going to help you ACE those tests. So if you are wondering how do you create a balance between study and maintaining a healthy lifestyle? Don’t worry, Daniel Berkelman, Master Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness, QLD, has you covered with these three key elements.
There is nothing worse than waking up after an eight-hour, late night, study marathon, feeling like none of it sunk in. Despite attempting to study while exhausted, one of the main contributors to this ‘memory blank’ phenomenon is lack of fuel, aka good nutrition. By not feeding your body enough complex carbohydrates, you essentially prevent the nerve signals to your brain which are in charge of relaying the information you are trying to learn.
Each time you create a memory or learn a piece of information you create a new pathway in the brain. Millions of different pathways are responsible for remembering all of your life experiences up unto this point. The key to creating this pathway is loading up on the brain’s primary source of fuel, CARBS!
The day you plan a big study sesh, focus on foods that have are low GI so they release into your bloodstream over a long period of time. This will help you avoid feeling lethargic and tired throughout the day, and make the study hours you put in all the worthwhile.
Now nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle, exercise is just as important when it comes to cramming for assessments. Not only does exercise provide a great stress relief, and a nice dose of those happy endorphins, it also provides two key components that will influence your study; improved blood flow and improved immunity. I know it all sounds very technical, but let us elaborate.
Think of your brain like any old muscle, similar to that ‘pumped up’ feeling you get in your quads after a set of squats, your brain requires a steady blood flow to transport oxygen from the body. Now this oxygen sent to the brain aids problem solving AND will help you retain more information. The key thing to note here is, that when the blood is warm from exercise, MORE oxygen is travelling around your body and can directly improve the effectiveness of your study.
Furthermore, during the lead up to assessments, it is common to push your body to the limits in order to cram as much information as you can, but this can come at a cost. When your body is under pressure, you increase the risk of catching that inconvenient cold just before your exams. The good news is, research has shown that moderate exercise is one of the best ways to build your immunity and kick that lurking cold the the curb.
Whether you are a night owl, or an early bird, coffee will not always save you, so it is vital that you get enough sleep each night. Not only will sleep help your focus while studying, research has shown that sleep itself has a large role in the consolidation of memory which is essential for learning new information. Seven to nine hours is the recommended amount of sleep required for optimal brain function, so next time you think about pulling an all nighter, it may be a better idea to cut it short and grab yourself a few extra hours of shut eye.
Now you have the tips and tricks to studying smarter not harder, it is time to start practising what you’ll soon be preaching – Good luck!