Tag Archives: Wellbeing

Exam hack – exercise boosts your memory and cognition

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Tips for efficient and focused study

Does if feel like your life stops when exams start? If you feel this way, mature student Kate has shared some of her tips on efficient, focused study you might find helpful. Kate is in her third year of a BSc Philosophy and runs a research and consulting business. I think efficient might be her middle name.

Just reading stuff and writing down notes wasn’t working for me – it was an utterly dull way to learn, so I turned to storyboards and hey presto, study became more fun and my GPA increased.

Take your notes, probably 30-odd pages for a semester, and start organising and condensing them onto big A2 desk-sized pages according to key topic areas making giant cheat sheets. Organise your notes into a structure using bullet points and adding notes and leave out information you know. I use felt pens, sticky notes and draw pictures and diagrams to get new information to stick in my brain. Then hang your cheat sheet on the wall.

One of Kate’s cheat sheets.

Breaks are really important while studying. After each A2 cheat sheet that you create, take a break. Set your alarm clock or meet a friend – I use my dog as an alarm clock to take a break and go for a walk at the beach. When you come back to do the next cheat sheet, review the previous one before getting started.

Kate’s ‘alarm clock’ is ready for his study break.

As the exam gets closer, aim to reduce your cheat sheet knowledge from an A2 to an A4 or smaller – the more you review the content the smaller and more concise your sheet should get. Rewriting a cheat sheet onto smaller sizes of paper as you grasp the ideas gives you confidence that you’re learning the material.

It’s a myth that you can study for 12 hours straight and digest all the information. If you’re a ‘C’s get degrees’ student, it’s fine, but if you want to actually learn and do well, I find two hour study sessions with breaks, spread over a week or two, is a better approach.

Extra tip: when you read new content, try to find real life examples of how it applies, it makes you more likely to remember it. Or attach the content to a real life memory, for example, if I’m learning about an engineering problem that is abstract, I think of ways it might be used in my life or I think of some wacky analogy – it helps when needing to remember lots of stuff.

Do you have a handy study tip? Share it with your classmates in the comments section below.

GradFest – it’s for postgrad students

Autumn Gradfest is 11 – 15 June and features a variety of sessions to help you on the thesis journey. You will also have opportunities to meet other postgrad students during the breaks and at the welcome social and showcase awards.

Many of the sessions are designed to give you practical tips about different aspects of the research and writing process. For example, you can learn more about note-taking and writing your literature review.

When you need to read and understand large amounts of material, it’s important to make the best use of your time. At GradFest you can also learn how technology can help you stay up-to-date and be more efficient.

Other sessions are focused on careers and cultural communication. These can help prepare you for applying and interviewing for jobs, as well as interacting with people from different backgrounds. There is also a new session where postgrad students discuss what helped them the most during their studies.

Whether you’re at the beginning, middle, or end of your thesis, there is something you’ll find helpful at Gradfest.

Register here>

Check out the full programme here>
See the timetable for everything on offer during GradFest>