You may feel like your child should spend every waking hour preparing for their exams. But in order to achieve great results, they need to do more than sit behind books.
For most students during the exam period, any hope of regular exercise goes out of the window. In its place falls lengthy revision sessions and high-stress levels. While you might want your child to spend hours upon hours behind their schoolbooks (or WorksheetCloud!), the truth is that if you really want them to fulfill their potential, from both an academic and health perspective, you might want to dig those gym shorts back out of the wardrobe.
The Big Benefits of Exam-time Exercise
You’ve no doubt heard about the numerous physical health benefits of regular exercise, but have you ever stopped to think how it could influence your child’s mental performance?
Aside from providing a well-needed break from marathon revision sessions, when our bodies engage in movement, it triggers the release of various hormones and chemical compounds in the body. These hormones and chemical compounds all have very important effects on various brain functions.
What is released during exercise, and how it helps
- Serotonin – involved in regulating sleep cycles and boosting mood.
- Dopamine – positively influences learning and attention span.
- Nor-epinephrine – affects motivation and mental stimulation.
- Coupled with an increased blood flow to the brain, this cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters improves cognitive function and the ability to focus for longer time periods. Which means higher quality revision sessions and a higher chance of hitting your target results.
- Research also shows that exercise significantly reduces resting levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, allowing you to spend less time worrying and more time getting work done.
- If that wasn’t enough, regular movement has also been shown to result in an increase in the size of the hippo-campus, a part of the brain involved with memory retention.
Fitting Exercise Into your Busy Schedule
It’s all well and good knowing about the potential benefits of exercising during exam time, but that still doesn’t solve the problem of fitting it into your child’s busy schedule.
Try these …
- To start with, it’s important to be flexible. Fit exercise around your child’s revision timetable and find what works for them.
- For some, an early morning session increases their focus for the rest of the day. For others, a lunchtime workout helps to break up the monotony, or an evening exercise class helps them to de-stress before bed.
- Remember that exercise doesn’t have to last for hours to count. During revision periods, you might benefit from moving towards shorter, more intense sessions like a quick jog or some skipping. You still get all the important physical and cognitive benefits, just in less time.
- Your children can also stay fresh throughout the rest of the day by taking regular movement breaks from their work, every half an hour or so. Whether it’s a short walk or a few stretches, help them to stay active.
Time to do the work
Hopefully, now you’re convinced that staying mobile and getting a sweat on during the exam period is a must for your child.
Just remember that what they eat can have just as much as an impact on their mental performance. Aim for plenty of nutrient dense fruits and veggies, as well as omega-3 rich nuts and seeds for an even bigger brain boost.
What exercise tips do you have for exam time? Post your comments below.