18. Exam advice – move it

Dear Isaac,

Adding some movement into your revision routine is a total no-brainer. Why?

If you work your body your brain will respond by releasing chemicals to help you sleep better, ease your worries, boost your concentration and improve your thinking. In short, learning becomes easier. And this is what we want.H

6 ways exercise boosts your revision

1. Oxygen – Your brain only makes up a few percent of your body weight but it uses a massive 25% of the oxygen you take in! If the brain doesn’t get sufficient oxygen it becomes slower and more and more sluggish. This means your revision is less efficient.

2. Boring – When you get bored during your revision and you will,  it hits your ability to focus and concentrate as well as lowering your confidence in yourself. The solution is easy and that is to have regular breaks where you can move your body.

3. Aches – Having aches in your body reduces your effectiveness as a learner.Taking frequent breaks to move your body means that the aches and pains of sitting at a desk (or wherever you revise) don’t build up in their intensity. So, they don’t distract you as much.

4. Wins – Odd as it may seem but by taking breaks to move it allows your brain to experience a quick win. You’ve planned to have breaks and by taking them it shows your brain that you can and do achieve the things you plan to do.

5. Sleep – If you’re tired from some exercise you’ll improve your sleep and therefore your mental sharpness and concentration. 

6. Endorphins -You, like all of us, want to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. This is why endorphins are so great – they lower your discomfort and pain and increase your pleasure. Your body produces these when you increase your heart rate through exercise (and when you laugh!). You feel good when they flow around your brain. When you feel good you are more positive, more optimistic and have a higher level of self-esteem.

This is NOT me!

What types of movement works well? 

Frankly any you do will work, as long as you move your body so you’re out of breath a little (or a lot) for a few minutes (or a lot of minutes) a once or more during the day. Do whatever exercise you like – walking fast(ish), running, cycling etc etc

But let me say something about deskercises – these are exercises you do for a minute or two at your desk before you start  and when you end every session and you can also do them during your sessions if you need to.

But please do them slowly and carefully and be totally focused on the muscles as you move.

Here’s 6 I love but there are lots more in the book I wrote – you have a copy.

1. Extremity twists – gently open and close, twist and flex your fingers, hands and wrists a few times. And then do your toes, feet and ankles if you wish too.

2. Shoulder shrugs – gently lift your shoulders up and then gently let them fall fully downwards. 

3. Shoulder circles – gently roll your shoulders forwards and then move them backwards to complete the circle. Do twice. Then go the other way twice.

4. Neck rotations – slowly and gently extend your head forward and then downwards, then move it slowly and gently in a circle one way twice. Then move your head the other way twice. 

5. Head rotations – keeping your head upright look one way and slowly and gently turn your head to this side and hold it there for a second or two. Then move your eyes to look the other way and slowly and gently move your head to this other side and hold it there for a second or two. Try to get your head so you can see over your shoulder if you can but don’t overstretch.

6. Eyes – every 15 minutes or so give your eyes a break by looking out of a window for 15 seconds or so to adjust to long vision.

Take care of yourself.