Do you feel like you can focus better after you get in a bit of exercise? Do you feel invigorated, energized, and mentally fresh after your workout? If so, you may intuitively know these study break tips that oodles of scientific research has already confirmed to be effective.
Studies consistently show that exercise (both before and after study sessions) boosts cognitive performance and, ipso facto, academic performance in children and adults alike. Specific areas of brain function shown to benefit from a bout of exercise include:
- Memory and recall
- Focus and attention
- Impulse control
So, while it may be tempting to burn the midnight oil while cramming for a big test or presentation, taking a break from hitting the books to hit the gym could make your studying session more successful in the long run.
3 Movement-Inspired Study Break Tips To Optimize Brain Power and Boost Your Grade
Exercise—particularly moderate-intensity aerobic exercise—can improve learning efficiency and brain power. Here are three study break tips that will inspire you to use movement to your academic advantage:
1. Think 10:1.
That is: aim to get 10 minutes of exercise per hour of study over the course of a day. This is actually a pretty reasonable goal to hit. As an example, a marathon six-hour study sesh equals out to just a 1-hour session after your studying is over. Plus, you don’t necessarily have to do that entire one hour all at once.
2. Take mini-exercise breaks to break up your exercise sessions.
There’s a doubly-good reason for this one. First, we already know that exercise can boost brain power. Second, research shows that distributing learning over time into smaller sessions can improve retention, which means that breaking up large cram sessions into smaller chunks of time has been shown to be effective in its own right.
A decent timeline to follow would be about 45 minutes of focused, uninterrupted work followed by a 15-minute break.
What to do with those intermittent study breaks? Instead of zoning out on brain-draining social media, why not slip in a quick ten-minute workout instead? Try in-home yoga, one or two Tabata workouts, a brisk walk, or even a quick and painful workout (try as many burpees as you can in 7 minutes—you’ve been warned).
Of course, you’ll need to be pretty decent at time management and planning ahead for this tactic to work—procrastinators beware!
3. Invest in a stand-up desk modification.
While it hasn’t been proven (yet), it’s incredibly possible that standing while you study improves recall and memory, ultimately helping you focus better. How? By reducing your chances of experiencing chair-induced back pain and shoulder pain.
Lastly, if you have some time to spare and feel like reading an interesting book about the surprising ways exercise affects your brain, be sure to check out Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by Dr. John J. Ratey, MD.