There are times when students might need to study for long periods. In that situation, some students might struggle to maintain their energy levels.
Research has shown benefits of exercise for anxiety (1)
A recent study looked at effectiveness of breaks during a 4 hour learning session (2).
Who was studied?
Blasche and colleagues studied 66 students, mean age 22.5 years, enrolled in two different university classes of 4‐hr duration (2).
What was measured?
Fatigue and vigor were assessed immediately before, immediately after, and 20 minutes after the break (2).
How long were the breaks? (2)
- The breaks were 6 minutes long.
- These breaks were after 45 minutes of a lecture.
What type of breaks did the participants get?
- Exercise break 6 minutes: 3 min of aerobic exercise including running on the spot and a variety of jumping exercises that were alternated every 30 s followed by 3 min of a variety of stretching exercises (2).
- Relaxation break consisted of a 6‐min guided body scan exercise. Individuals were instructed to focus their attention on various body parts and functions such as feet, legs, arms, and breathing and to observe the sensations arising in those regions (2).
- Unstructured rest break, individuals could do what they wanted as long as they remained seated at their desks (2).
What were the results?
- The main findings were that a brief, 6–7‐min relaxation technique or physical activity, decreased fatigue beyond the level of a normal rest break.
- These breaks also increased in vigor, which could improve work engagement and productivity (2).
What are some caveats?
- This is a small study and further study is needed.
- Brief exercise may not be suitable for everyone (check with your healthcare provider).
- Not everyone might benefit from this approach.
- Some students might notice immediate stress relief benefits of yoga.
- Other strategies to improve academic performance can be found here.
By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist
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Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented. Permission to use/cite this article: contact firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Stonerock, Gregory L. et al. “Exercise as Treatment for Anxiety: Systematic Review and Analysis.” Annals of behavioral medicine : a publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine 49.4 (2015): 542–556. PMC. Web. 9 May 2018.
2. Blasche, G., Szabo, B., Wagner-Menghin, M., Ekmekcioglu, C., & Gollner, E. (2018). Comparison of rest-break interventions during a mentally demanding task. Stress and health : journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress, 34(5), 629–638. https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.2830