Can Exercise Help You Study?
By Kathy Wood, Ph.D., FHFMA, Dean of Health Sciences
College can be difficult enough adjusting to your new environment, dealing with the increased workload and balancing school along with work and family obligations. Fitting in exercise on top of all this can seem like a daunting task.
While I was pursuing my terminal degree, I worked full-time and had a husband and three children (with my fourth one born during my pursuit of the degree). But I rarely felt like my life was out of balance because I carefully scheduled everything I needed to accomplish – including exercise.
Numerous studies have shown that exercising not only improves your physical well-being but it can also positively impact your cognitive skills. Making time for exercise is just as important to your academic success and mental capacities as studying. My research and experience has shown that exercise can:
- Calm the mind
- Relax the body
- Alleviate chronic depression
- Normalize sleep
- Provide protective effects on the brain
- Stimulate creative ideas
Often we forgo exercise because we feel we can’t take time away from studying. Again, research shows that if we take time away from studying to do exercise, we will be more relaxed. Relaxation results in our brains opening up to receive and retain information more easily, spurring more creative inspiration.
Can I Study while Exercising?
There are a variety of tips on how to exercise at your desk while working, and these also apply when you are studying. Of course, you may not be working out as hard since you are focused on reading. However, if your primary goal is studying with exercise as a side benefit, try reading while using an exercise bike. The variety of mobile apps available also makes it easy to listen to podcasts and audiobooks while you exercise.
How Can I Possibly Find the Time to Exercise?
Exercise requires discipline and time management. Keep in mind that the longer the day goes, the more you’ll find excuses for not being able to fit it in. Consider knocking it out in the morning to avoid putting it off until tomorrow. Stretching and various exercises, including aerobics, can be done while you are studying. Try listening to your webinars while doing house or yard work (another form of exercise).
For an exercise routine, you need to do something daily if possible. If you skip more than two days, it’s difficult to reestablish a routine. When forming a habit, you need to make the task automatic or repetitive. Research shows that the average time it takes for you to form a habit is 66 days. Set a goal for your favorite form of exercise to become routine within a maximum of 66 days.
What exercise habit will you start today? Share with me on Twitter at @CTUHealth.
Want to learn more?
Check out these websites and articles for additional information:
The Exercise Effect
How Exercise Benefits the Brain
Workout Your Mind and Body While You Study
Some Tips to Keep You Exercising Consistently
Photo Credit: Flickr/Lululemon Athletica
Kathy Wood, Ph.D., FHFMA is the University Dean of Health Sciences at CTU. A fellow of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (FHFMA) with over 30 years industry experience, she also serves as director of Chapter Services on the board of the North Carolina Chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (NCHFMA) and is a member of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).