Words by Rebecca Stead
We’ve all been there: that eerie silent moment suspended between dusk and dawn. Studying feverishly, it’s just you with your brain, a book and a bright screen, pounding coffee and cramming for that assignment / book / website / blog. You curse those squandered daylight hours and wish you’d studied smarter.
Where did it all go wrong?
We sought advice from The Australian Institute of Fitness and international health experts Healthwise Global. Their good advice is surprisingly simple to maximize study success: Sleep. Eat. Exercise. Hydrate and repeat.
Daniel Berkelman, master coach at The Australian Institute of Fitness advises this: “Good nutrition and regular training can be put on the back burner as you prioritise long days of study, reading and preparation. It’s common to get into bad eating habits and cancelling exercise to spend time in the books. Good nutrition and a daily sweat session are going to help you,” says Dan “so create a balance between study and healthy lifestyle with three basic elements.”
1 Eat All The Carbs
There’s nothing worse than waking up after a late night study marathon, feeling like none of it sunk in. Despite attempting to study while exhausted, one of the main contributors to this ‘memory blank’ phenomenon is lack of fuel, aka good nutrition. Each time you create a memory or learn a piece of information you create a new pathway in the brain. Millions of different pathways aid memory of your life experiences. The key to creating this pathway is loading up on the brain’s primary source of fuel, CARBS! Feed your body enough complex carbohydrates to enhance the nerve signals to your brain relaying the information you are trying to learn.
2 Train To Gain The Knowledge
Exercise is equally important to nutrition when it comes to extended study. Not only does exercise provide a great stress relief, and a nice dose of those happy endorphins, it also provides two key components: improved blood flow and improved immunity. Your brain requires a steady blood flow to transport oxygen from the body. Oxygen sent to the brain aids in problem solving and helps you retain more information. When blood is warm from exercise, more oxygen travels around your body and can directly improve effectiveness of your studies. Furthermore, when you push your body to the limits to cram information, it can come at a cost. When your body is under pressure, you increase the risk of illness just before exams. Research has shown that moderate exercise is one of the best ways to build your immunity.
3 Catch Those ZZZ’s
Whether you’re a night owl, or an early bird … it’s vital you get enough sleep. Not only will sleep help your focus while studying, research has shown that sleep itself has a large role in the consolidation of memory, essential for learning new information. Seven to nine hours sleep is recommended for optimal brain function. So next time you consider pulling an all nighter, it may be a better idea to grab a few extra hours of zzzzs.
We interviewed health practitioner Tod Horton, who started Healthwise Global to improve the health life balance of busy executives across the world.
Expanding now into student accommodation with industry leader Atira, he and his staff tailor health and fitness programs for students at their onsite gyms.
“We’ve worked closely with Atira’s CEO, Andrea Slingsby and their Student Experience Leaders to make sure Atira students are well equipped for student life and living away from home. So far we’ve focused on healthy eating challenges and cooking seminars, yoga and HIIT classes and sporting groups to encourage socializing. Our Health and Wellness experts have a regular presence at Atira’s accommodation facilities and gyms to answer student questions.”
“We’ve seen such a huge shift over the past 5-10 years that clients (corporate and students) are putting a much greater focus on their health and wellbeing. Evidence proves that the many benefits of staying healthy include better concentration, less time off sick, increased energy levels and a much better mental state to help cope with everything life throws at us,” says Tod.
Tod’s Queensland team shares what is trending now with students. Katina Karydas, Healthwise QLD Assistant Team Leader agrees that Healthwise trainers have seen a notable difference at Atira’s gyms, with the students engaging with each other in social activities and fitness classes and making sure that they dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to focus on their health and wellness.
About the author
Rebecca Stead has worked across USA and Australia covering lifestyle press, trade media and digital communication. Most recently she spent 18 months contributing freelance for hospitality, design,landscape and lifestyle sectors. Rebecca is also a marketing strategist and landscape architect.