student reading
November 28, 2016
3 mins read

Bust a move - break out of your exam slump

When I have an endless to-do list, exercise is often the first thing I leave behind. It’s harder for me to justify spending an entire hour on a run when there are more pressing things on my mind.

And during exam season, when I spend hours sitting amongst stacks of books, I often feel groggy and unfocused. Though I may not have the luxury to fit in an hour-long run, or go for a refreshing swim, there are many ways to fit in movement.

Here are 5 useful exercise tips you can easily fit into your study routine:

Take active breaks

Get your assets off the chair! It’s hard to study effectively for a long period of time – especially when you’re feeling fidgety. Instead of taking a seated break (like checking Facebook for the 20th time), why not get up and move around? Taking active breaks will help your productivity too. Try taking a simple walk around the neighbourhood or into a different room and back. Or, if you don’t have time to walk, try doing fun exercises at your desk! If you live close to campus, try walking/biking there more often instead of driving or taking the bus. During exam season, the extra time on foot helps to relax and focus your thoughts. It might also help you feel less restless while you study.

Find small, easy ways to integrate physical activity into your everyday tasks.

Choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

If you have some extra time, take the longer route and get some fresh air.

When in doubt, stretch it out.

Sometimes when we get too zoned in on studying– with our noses deep in our textbooks–it can really strain our backs. Stretching often can reduce stiffness, improve posture, and increase flexibility. Doing 10 reps of the following desk-friendly stretches can really help refresh your body.

Neck stretch:

  1. Reach with your right hand over your head and shrug your left shoulders.
  2. Slowly pull your head away from your left shoulder then drop your left shoulder down.

Shoulder-blade squeezes:

  1. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, bringing your elbows back as far as possible.
  2. Calf Raises: While standing, keep your legs straight and lift up onto your tippy-toes.

Find your favourite exercise routine to promote blood flow.

During the times when I find myself absorbing less information, I like to do a 10-minute workout routine. Ab and core exercises are my favourite– they help promote blood flow and increase my energy levels.

  • Choose or customize an exercise routine that works best for you.
  • Create a workout playlist to make it more fun!
  • Take advantage of on-campus fitness facilities.
  • I use an App called Sworkit. It allows me to customize my workout routine – super helpful to those who like to have creative freedom.


Find peace of mind. Sometimes a calmer approach to getting focused is just what I need. Meditating can be a helpful activity when I’m studying (or stressing). Taking a moment to relax helps calm the mind and promote clarity and concentration when you get back to studying.

Step 1 (Optional): Create a zen/chill playlist.
Step 2: Get into a comfortable position (I love the dead man’s pose).
Step 3: Take a slow, deep breath in.
Step 4: Take a slow, deep breath out.
Step 5: While taking deep breaths, empty your mind and enter a moment of calmness.

Any movement, big or small, can go a long way during these long weeks of exam preparation. Though your time may seem too precious to spare, exercising can give you the energy to better understand challenging concepts with more focus and motivation. Not only does a healthy dose of movement increase your fitness levels, it can also lower your stress and improve your concentration — allowing you to achieve better academic success this season.

So go ahead, end that exercise hiatus, and find creative ways to fit in movement throughout the exam season. Good luck!