Exercise Is the Best Medicine
Exercise is a great way to improve brain function. It improves your brain’s ability to focus by increasing your blood circulation, which delivers oxygen and glucose to the brain while taking away waste products. Recent studies show that exercise can even stimulate the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus—the memory center of the brain.
Exercise improves your brain’s ability to focus by increasing your blood circulation, which delivers oxygen and glucose to the brain while taking away waste products. When paired with other Study Naturally techniques, exercise can improve your focus and help you achieve academic success.
"I Don't Exercise. Where Do I Start?"
Choose a Minimum
Your body will benefit from several 10-minute exercise activities throughout the day. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity weekly is recommended. Try to do a little each day.
Focus on Steps or Distance
Sometimes it’s easier to have a goal other than time. Try working up to walking or running 10,000 steps or 8 kilometres per day.
Don’t Try Too Much Too Soon
You may become discouraged and quit, so start slowly and progress gradually. Do not over-exert yourself.
Practice Safety Precautions
Stretch before you begin, wear a helmet, walk in well-lit areas or with a partner, and drink plenty of water.
Do It with a Group
You will likely be more motivated to exercise if you involve your family and friends.
Whatever You Do, Make Sure You Enjoy It
Find an activity you enjoy doing. You will be more likely to stay involved with your exercise program.
Benefits of Exercise
Boosts Your Endorphins
Exercise helps your brain produce feel-good neurotrans-mitters called endorphins. These will help you shed tension and focus on a single task.
Helps Improve Sleep
A moderate amount of daily aerobic exercise can help improve sleep quality and reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, leaving you less tired during the day.
Boosts Energy Levels
Exercise improves blood circulation, helping you stay alert.
Exercising at regular intervals leads to the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, helping your memory. Research suggests that aerobic exercise training can lead to improvements in attention, processing speed, and executive functioning. Exercise can also prevent age-related memory loss.
Exercise helps burn off chemicals such as adrenaline, which can help reduce stress.
Distracts from Negative Thinking
When you exercise you can get away from stress-inducing circumstances for a while. Exercise also helps distract from negative thoughts.
Exercise and Exams
During exam times you may feel unable to take much time off from studying. Instead of giving up on exercise completely, try taking small, regular breaks to refresh your body and mind. Take a walk around the library or campus.
Think about what times of day you study best. Some people find doing homework easier in the morning while others are more productive in the afternoon. Plan your day and fit some exercise around your study plan.
"What Should I Do When I Can't Focus?"
Visit the PAC
Check out the PAC on campus. Get in your daily exercise by visiting the Fit Centre, climbing wall, indoor track, or pool. The PAC also offers a wide range of fitness classes. For more information, visits Campus Recreation Services.
Join an Intramural Team
Join a competitive or recreational team. Intramural sports include badminton, basketball, curling, dodgeball, floor hockey, football, futsal, hockey, innertube basketball, innertube water polo, slo-pitch, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, and volleyball. For more information, visit Campus Recreation Intramurals.
Check Out Campus Walking Routes
You have access to some of the best indoor and outdoor walking paths in Saskatoon right from campus. See all of the routes.
- Exercise during commercials or study breaks.
- Do calf raises while standing in line-ups.
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
- Add steps to your day—park far away, walk to a further bus stop, or take the long way to class.
- Use readily available household products to build strength, such as soup cans for bicep curls or a strong box for step-ups.
- Take up a new hobby like yoga, dancing, or gardening.
"What If I Exercise Too Much?"
It can be tempting to apply the “more is better” philosophy to exercise, but the benefits of physical activity are actually reversed if you do too much.
Signs of Overtraining
- Exercise feels harder than usual
- Muscles and joints are regularly stiff and sore
- You are tired and sluggish
- Slower recovery from workouts
- Frequent headaches or stomach pains
- Difficulty sleeping
- Frequent sore throats or colds
If you find yourself putting your workouts above everything else in your life—studies, relationships, or other activities—and you are not training for a specific short-term goal, talk to a counsellor or health provider at Student Wellness Centre.