Use exercise “brain breaks” as stress relief and study boost

March 14, 2017

Cynthia Lewis

[email protected]

(Editor’s Note: Cynthia Lewis is the president of the Exercise is Medicine club. She contributed this guest column to The Scribe for publication.)

     Have you ever wanted to go to the gym, but immediately dismissed the thought because you didn’t have anyone to go with? Do you want to start weightlifting, but you don’t know where to start or have extra money for a personal trainer?

     Think about it. There must be hundreds of other students on campus who feel the same way you do.

     According to UCCS students, an overwhelming nine out of 10 replied that they would much prefer to walk into the Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center with a consistent buddy.

     Exercise is more than just something that tones your muscles or keeps the heart in good, working order. Regular exercise greatly benefits students by keeping the brain healthy, assisting in the ability to assimilate new information when you’re studying hard and even helping to reduce stress and anxiety.

     When you’re especially stressed for time, a great way to get in some quick exercise is to take a brain break while studying or during the break of a long lecture class.

     When feeling overwhelmed or distracted, get up and move. Short physical movements can increase retention of material. It’s a quick and simple way to re-energize, refocus and tackle the problem or material ahead of you.

     A few great examples of both physically and cognitively challenging brain breaks include jumping jacks up and down the hallway, a brisk walk around a building, yoga poses, basic stretches and thumb wars with a buddy.

     You can also do the hand challenge by opening both hands in front of your face, with your palms facing away from you. Try moving one hand up and down while moving the other hand side to side then switch.

     Snap and wink: Wink with your right eye while snapping with your left index finger and thumb, then switch sides.

     Focused attention on breathing (1-2 minutes): Inhale while closing one nostril, hold your breath for a second, release nostril and close the other while exhaling. Repeat starting with opposite nostril.

     Breathing through “colors:” Close your eyes, inhale “green” and exhale “soft gray” (imagining colors in your head with each inhale and exhale).

     Use these short and easy brain breaks to increase your mental focus and get up and get moving. If you are interested in finding a fitness buddy, hop on Mountain Lion Connect and join us at Exercise is Medicine, where we welcome all students to get moving with us.