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Often, exams and assessments can quickly fill up hours spent outside of school, giving us less time to focus on things that aren’t study-related. One of the first things a lot of people forgo (myself included) is time spent playing sport and exercising in order create more time for study. It seems to make sense-that extra time spent preparing for exams and working on assessments would result in receiving better marks. However, large bodies of scientific research suggest otherwise.


Focusing the majority of your energy on study alone can actually be counter-intuitive. This is because effective study habits involve more than just study itself. Incorporating regular exercise into a study routine can boost physical health, mental health and cognitive function. On top of that, sport and exercise provide an enjoyable break from homework and assessments. So, it seems like a pretty good idea to try and keep up sport as much as possible during busy periods at school.


To outline all the benefits of sport on both physical and mental health would take up hundreds, if not thousands, of pages, so I’m going to limit myself to explaining a couple of the most relevant benefits for school-age students. The first, and probably most obvious benefit, is that physical exercise directly improves physical health, and it’s crucial that this isn’t something that gets neglected whilst studying.


What’s more interesting (and directly relevant to creating an effective study routine) is that regular exercise has been found to have myriad benefits for mental health and in improving cognitive function.


The Institute of Neuroscience, Asturias, Spain has found that there is significant evidence about exercise benefiting memory. Also,research carried out at the Centre for Chronic Disease at Victoria University Melbourne has found that exercise can improve mood and self-esteem whilst lowering stress and anxiety.


So, exercising can help you study more effectively without changing or increasing your study habits! Awesome! Furthermore, regular exercise creates a healthy break from schoolwork allowing you to return to study with a clearer head. Sports can be an enjoyable way to socialise with friends, especially if you play in a team.


In order to help you keep as active as possible during exam and assessment periods, I’ve compiled some tips to keep you exercising:
  • If you’re not often active, even without the added pressures of schoolwork, then taking up light exercise such as yoga or walking instead of driving or catching public transport can be an easy and effective ways to incorporate exercise into your routine
  • Similarly, spending time outdoors, bush walking, or going to a park is an easy way to boost light physical activity
  • For those who struggle to stay active during intense periods at school, making your exercise a regular, scheduled activity such as playing team sport or signing up to a weekly class is an effective way to keep yourself active
  • Workout with a friend! It’s much harder to let a friend down and skip your workout than it is when you’re exercising alone.
So remember -study shouldn’t be the sole priority in anyone’s life. Remember to continue to invest in your physical and mental health, even while school is busy. Exercising, socialising and spending time doing things that you enjoy are all equally important in the long run. And, something I personal wish I knew a few years ago -they will actually help you improve your attitude and approach to study!
By Emma Jones.
References: Begga, A., Alvarez-Suarez, P., Sampedro-Piquero, P., Cuesta, M. “Effects of Physical Activity on the Cerebral Networks. Instituteof Neuroscience, Asturias, Spain” : Cognitive Ageing and Cerebral Networks 2016. 3-11. Web.
Herting, M.M., and Keenan, M.F. “Exercise and the Developing Brain in Children and Adolescents.” Physical Activity and the Aging Brain: Effects of Exercise on Neurological Function. Elsevier Inc., 2017. 13–19. Web.
Mikkelesen, K., Stojanovska, L., Polenakovic, M., Bosevski, M. “Exercise and Mental Health” Elselvier Inc., 2017. 48-56.