Tag Archives: Health

Exam hack – exercise boosts your memory and cognition

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We all know the benefits of exercise for our physical health, and we are coming round to the mental health benefits being common knowledge, how many of you are aware that exercise helps your memory and thinking skills?

Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means.  Directly, it has the ability to reduce inflammation and insulin resistance, and stimulate chemicals in the brain that affect the health of the brain cells. Indirectly, a good sweat sesh improves your mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety – all of which can contribute to cognitive impairment (ie your ability to think clearly).  

So what kind of exercise is useful for boosting your brain power?  Well, much of the evidence points towards cardio, so getting your heart rate up for around 30mins, doing any kind of activity (even hard core procrasti-cleaning) will help fire up the brain. Recent research also suggests alternative exercise (like yoga) can also have a positive effect on cognition.  And for those who like to lift? Good news…research in 2012 showed that both aerobic and strength exercises improved executive function (higher level thinking – the stuff you do when prepping for exams).   

Ultimately, a combination of strength, cardio and yoga is likely to bring you the best rewards.  However, with time perhaps not on your side, perhaps pick activities that you enjoy the most, and re-frame them as a reward for good study efforts. You can break it up into little chunks throughout the day or hit the gym or pavement for one solid effort. You could go food foraging at UC, using this handy Edible Campus Map, getting in some fresh air, some exercise and bonus, some free food.  We also love the UC Sustainability Office’s suggestion to listen to some inspiring music or pod casts on your walk, or simply as your thinking space. We have lots of lovely walks around campus, including Okeover Stream and Ilam Gardens.  

Don’t forget, if you need some free advice, just hit up one of our Fitness Consultants on the gym floor, they’re only too happy to share their knowledge with you. Or, if you’re more of a ‘schedule it in’ kinda person, then book in for a free 15min consultation for a chat that you can lock into your diary (and view on your Membership portal) or StartMe

Good luck with your exams!

UC RecCentre

Methods of study and the pros and cons

I’m in my third year of study at the moment, so these exams will be my fifth set of university exams. Over my time at UC I’ve had a crack at a couple of methods to study for tests and exams. Some good and others not so good.

Method 1: the ideal situation

This method involves doing exactly what your lecturers think you should do. It’s quite simple really, pre-read all the lecture content, attend every class and ask questions, revise after each class, study in the weekend, study in the holidays and replace Netflix with echo 360.

If you can pull something like this off congrats to you, you’ve done the mahi now hang in there for the treats. However if you’re anything like me and only revise for assignments this method might be a little bit out of reach. Don’t worry though, if you start now you’ll boost that GPA and with a couple of other tricks you’ll be able to do well.

Method 2: past paper fiend

All past papers for your course are online. Work through them, get your mates to work through them and compare. This is even better if you can get solutions to the exams.

The pros of this method are that you get familiar with the examinable content, get prepped for test situation and learn key concepts of your course. But the cons are, your lecturer can throw you a curve ball in the exam and if you don’t have solutions you and your friend could be heading in the wrong direction.

Method 3: no sleep til broken

If you’re the kind of person who gets really stressed by tests, you might find yourself putting in a couple of big shifts in the Core, revising lectures and going over tutorials and assignments.

Pulling an all-nighter definitely has its pros increased focus, study spaces are a lot quieter and none of your friends are distracting you.

However, an all-nighter brings with it some serious risk. Sleep deprivation can greatly exaggerate stress and make you generally feel worse about yourself. Being tired in a test is one of the worst feelings, and when you get hungry late at night barely anything is open.

Pro tip, if you do want to make the most of quiet late night study space, check your exam timetable and if they’re all in the afternoon you can “safely” shift your sleeping pattern back by 5-6 hours.

Keeping healthy during exams

It’s important that you keep up a healthy diet and drink lots of fluid. As much as you think you need to study late it’s important that you rest your mind so that you don’t forget what you are learning. For me I often try to alleviate stress through faith, I feel that praying not only calms me but also helps me to focus on the task at hand.


Tackle your exams head on with pre-planning

It’s never too early to start thinking about end of semester exams and tests and it’s important to keep in mind that Term Two is a short term. Karen Meadows-Taurua from Student Care has put together some practical tips to help you in the lead up to and during the exam period.

The UC Health Centre is running workshops on Stress Management over the next couple of weeks.

  • Wednesday, 30 May 2018, from 1pm-1.50pm

Find more information and sign up for a session here>  

Planning your time

A bit of forward planning can really help you stay on top of your study in the lead up to exams. Make a plan scheduling time for study, socialising, spending time with your family, eating and exercise. Use these tips to help you plan.

  • Look at the lead up to your exams. What will you study and when?
  • Make sure you have all the notes and information you need, and break it into chunks of time and subjects.
  • Keep your schedule front of mind. Stick it on the wall, refer back to it and check it off as you go.
  • Include breaks and the odd day off too.
  • If you are under pressure to be available to others, friends, family or work, have a chat to them and ask if they can give you some space while you get through study and exams.

Looking after yourself

During exams, it is just as important to look after yourself physically and nutritionally. Research suggests if you keep moving and eating well you will find it easier to concentrate and retain information. Try and include some of these tips in your schedule.

  • Eat as well as you can and regularly. Pick nourishing food and drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
  • If you can commit to at least some exercise that’s great. Exercising in the morning can help energise you for the day, and even light activity makes a difference.
  • Try and get enough sleep.
  • Go easy on the substances. This includes caffeine, coffee, NoDoz, cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, dexamphetamine and other drugs.

Study tips – to help you focus

Are you easily distracted or have trouble focusing on the task at hand? Perhaps some of these handy tips could help:

  • write study notes by hand. Research shows this helps you learn information
  • stick notes up around your room or house
  • do you like studying by yourself or in a group? Do you like studying outside or in fresh air?
  • switch your phone off or to flight mode and try to use it during breaks only.

Don’t forget that the Student Care team is available Monday to Friday, 9am-4.30pm to offer advice and support around anything that might be affecting your studies and wellbeing. The service is available for all domestic and international students and you can either drop in or make an appointment with one of our advisors. Phone 03 369 3388, email studentcare@canterbury.ac.nz or visit our webpage to find out more>

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