“But I don’t have time for anything but study…”

Do you feel as though you couldn’t possibly fit in a workout every day? Do you think that you can’t afford to lose valuable study time by exercising? THAT’S NOT THE CASE! The key is to making exercise part of your life, part of your daily routine.

It’s important to have a routine, particularly when studying.  As Geoff Brennan (Kilkenny Hurler) mentions here in his video interview, breaks can be used for training or exercise and when one returns to study after exercise, they feel refreshed and their brains are ready for action!

 

Example of a healthy evening’s routine:

4.00: Come home and have a snack (avoid that urge to nap…we know the bed looks super comfy, but it’s never worth it!)

4.30: Homework/study

6.30: EXERCISE

7.30: Dinner

8:00: Homework/study

10.00: Break/TV

11.00: Bed (NOW you can sleep! 🙂 )

Of course, this may not be possible every day but with time, routine becomes second nature and exercise can become part of your life!

So…you have a 1 hour break to shake out those legs and get the oxygen pumping around the body. What can you do?! Below is an example of a simple 45 minute workout that incorporates cardiovascular work with muscular strength and endurance that will have you feeling reenergised and ready to get back to the books.

5 minutes: Walk/light jog and stretches

10 minutes: Brisk walk/light jog

10 push ups

10 burpees

Plank (30 seconds)

20 squats

2 minute break (be sure to drink plenty water)

10 minutes: Brisk walk/light jog

Side plank (L)

20 sit ups

Side plank (R)

15 squat jumps very light jog/walk for 2 minutes followed by stretches

2 minute break

6 minutes: Intervals – (High intensity jog for 1 minute followed by low intensity jog/walk for 1 minute. Repeat 3 times)

4 minutes: Cool down – light jog/walk for 1/2 minutes and stretch

Again, this is just an example of a workout you could do with no equipment needed…just your mobile phone as a stopwatch! Being only 45 minutes long, you’ll have time for a quick shower before you return to the books.

It might be a good idea to listen to some music as you work out in order to motivate yourself. Put together a playlist of songs that are upbeat or perhaps have inspiring lyrics. Take a look at this link to see some women’s exercise playlists for some ideas! (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/workout-music)

Study AND exercise are important…so make time!

“Good things come to those who wait… greater things come to those who get up and do anything to make it happen.”

…MAKE IT HAPPEN!

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“Era…I’ll just get something from the vending machine later…”

Don’t even think about it…

Some of you may think that the above is an alright excuse for skipping breakfast or not making a lunch in the mornings before you leave for school but your mother is right…loading your body with sugary foods is NOT good.

So, it is a proven fact that breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. By having a good breakfast, you are provided with the energy that you need to get you from one end of the day to the other. It has also been proven that breakfast can help to improve academic performance. So avoid hitting the snooze button that extra time even though you may feel like these kittens, get up, and get a healthy breakfast to get a good start to the day.

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Everyone is guilty of grabbing a slice of white bread from the cupboard or a bar of chocolate in the shop from time to time but it’s vital to eat healthy not just for your body and for your mind but for yourself in general and for the feel good factor! If you’re craving something sweet, eat something sweet – just opt for a healthier option, like fruit, instead of a high-calorie one.

Take for example that you have a big maths test in the morning and you’re finding it difficult to concentrate, the first thing you think to do is have a can of Red Bull to energise you and give you a sugar boost but STOP!!!! An apple contains sucrose which is also a fast acting sugar which is the healthier option and it provides the same boost that you are longing for.

It’s also vital that you eat three meals a day. Use fruit, water and diet yoghurts as your snacks between meals. Below is a food pyramid that shows you the different portion sizes. Obviously it isn’t expected that you cut out goodies completely but eat them in small amounts and use them as incentive to get more work done!

SUPERFOODS

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Not even Superman, Spiderman and the Powerpuff girls can save you from the Leaving Cert blues…but trying some of the following foods might help…

  • Fish helps boost energy, enhance learning ability, improve problem-solving skills, and boost memory power and enhance communication between brain cells.
  • Fruits such as watermelon, tomatoes, plums, pineapples, oranges, apples, grapes, kiwifruits, peaches and cherries have a positive impact on your brain and help you recall information quickly.
  • Vegetables help boost brain power and improve your memory
  • Nuts have been proven to improve your brain power and also boost your mood
  • Whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, whole-grain breads and cereals, barley and popcorn boost your blood flow to the brain.
  • Calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, cheese, milk and other foods rich in calcium help in improving the function of nerves
  • Water makes up nearly ¾ of the brain is water, which makes this life-giving liquid an essential component for the smooth functioning of the brain. Make sure you drink at least 8 GLASSES OF WATER A DAY to keep your brain active and quick.

Try using some simple tricks to healthier eating such as using wholegrain, whole-wheat and high fibre breads and cereals which will fill you up and make you less hungry between your meals or increase your intake of fruit by putting it on your desk while you study. You’ll be surprised of the benefits that one small change can make!

And remember healthy eating is not just about maintaining a healthy weight – it affects your total state of well-being …

 “The groundwork of all happiness is health”

Included below is a video of Claire Keohane who is currently playing with the Irish 7s women’s rugby team and during her Leaving Cert year she managed to juggle her studies with playing on the Cork minor team in both disciplines -camogie and football. She found that by playing sport during her Leaving Cert that it helped her find a good balance between study, exercise and diet.

“But it’s not really that important…can’t exercise wait ’til after the exams?!”

Answer: NO IT CAN’T WAIT!

As we’ve already learned, exercise doesn’t have to wait. It can easily be fit in with evenings of study and simply needs to be made part of your routine. Not only will this help with your physical wellbeing, exercise has also been proven to help those studying for exams.

3 reasons why exercise helps in study and CANNOT wait ‘til after the exams…

  1. So you can go from this…

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…to this…

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We all know how it feels. You’ve been sitting at the desk for over an hour now and the backs of your eyelids seem a lot more interesting than the Modh Coinníollach. You have no energy, you’re bored and you want to go to sleep. A short spurt of exercise will wake you right up and have you ready to Harlem Shake and more importantly (debatable) study.

When you exercise, the heart pumps faster, you breathe faster and more oxygen is pumped around the body. Because more blood reaches your brain, you become far more alert. Also, when you exercise, the body releases a hormone called epinephrine which also increases your awareness. Because you’re more alert and aware after even a short bit of exercise, your ability to concentrate increases. A protein called BDNF is also released during exercise and that can help to improve your memory (you can read more about that here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/how-exercise-benefits-the-brain/ ) You’ll be able to explain cad a dhéanfá dá mbuafá an crannchur náisiúnta in no time!!

  1. Girl, you need a break.

APphoto_Mideast Lebanon Smoking Chimpanzee

You may feel as though you’re a prisoner in your own room as you sit for hours at the same desk and sitting there all day every day may make you feel almost as crazy as this monkey! It’s certainly not healthy for you to be in the same environment all day sometimes for hours at a time. You need to take a break every now and again. What better way to spend these breaks than with a little exercise? Research shows that a teenager’s average attention span is no more than 40 minutes. So really, you should be taking a little break at least every hour because your brain simply won’t take in any excess material. See below for some more short simple exercises you can do at your desk or in your room that will get the blood flowing and have you feeling reenergised like this slightly happier, more studious monkey…

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  1. Don’t worry, be happy

Studying and thinking about exams don’t make anybody happy. But exercise can!

***SPOILER*** – big words coming up!!

When we exercise, different endocrine glands around the body excrete hormones. These hormones, particularly dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA and serotonin give a person a feelgood factor along with endorphins that are also released by the body. So after a workout, people feel happier in general. This is something that is very important as you study as it can, of course, be quite a dull, dreary, stressful time.

To enjoy your workout even more, you could exercise with friends. This can help to motivate you to exercise and also may contribute to your enjoyment of exercising…making you extra happy.

In the meantime, for a happy buzz…take a look at this pig…

Im-one-happy-pig-l

So no, exercise can’t wait until after the exams. Studying is not a reason for you not to exercise, it’s a reason why you should. It will make you more alert and aware, help you spend your study breaks wisely instead of trawling through your news feed waiting for something to happen and will also chase away the study blues.

To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear

Here are some quick exercises you can do during your short study breaks…all you need is two water bottles…who needs weights? Fill the water bottles more as you progress in order to challenge yourself a little more.

  1. Crunches

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  1. Chest      push

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  1. Bicycle      exercise

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  1. Lateral      raise

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  1. Lift      rotation

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All of these exercises can be done within five minutes. The number of reps you do is completely up to yourself but try to challenge yourself somewhat…and remember to set goals. If you do 10 lateral raises every day this week, try to do 12 next week.

Some exercises can even be done as you study…

Leg raises – Start with feet flat on floor. Sit tall at your desk. Extend one leg until it is level with your hip. Hold for ten seconds. Slowly lower leg. Repeat 15 times. Change legs.

Chair squats – Stand tall. Keep back straight. Lower to one inch of chair, pretending you are sitting down. Hold for ten seconds. Lift back up to standing position.

Leg toning: With legs straight, cross one on top of the other. Raise them off the floor. Press top leg down and resist with bottom leg. Do until muscles are tired. Repeat with opposite legs top and bottom.

Also, here is a quick interview with Maria Walsh who is currently playing with the Cork Senior Camogie team. She has won medals at all grades and across all divisions which include an All-Ireland medal with her school, her club and her county.  It’s clear from the interview that she really values exercise and believes that it can leave you refreshed and energised in order to study more effectively.

“Aww man…I am stressed to the max!”

You’re UTW (up the walls)…up to high doh…snowed under…swimming without a paddle…it happens. HOWEVER, at times like this, forget about this approach…

3ri3hr

…and just breeeeeeeathe.

With the pressures and strains of daily living taking their toll on us and resulting in fatigue, stress and anxiety, sometimes we forget to take some time out and slow down a bit as well as clearing our head. As Karen Duggan, Kilkenny camogie star and Irish soccer International mentions, it’s important to just take a step back sometimes. Forget about the ‘minus b formula’, close your eyes and…breeeeeath.

The following is an exercise which only takes a few minutes to complete and will leave you feeling calm and relaxed. It counteracts sad feelings, anxiety and stress and helps you to concentrate and sleep. Ideally it should be carried out for 15 minutes but even 5 minutes and you should see a difference!

breathing_in_and_out

1.      The Breaths

The secret to 7/11 breathing is quite simple; the ‘out’ breaths must be longer than the ‘in’ breaths (ideally about half the time again). ‘7/11’ is an easy way to remember the breathing technique as it should take roughly 7 seconds to inhale and 11 seconds to exhale. You will find that you will probably breather out more gently than you inhale.

2.      Do it Anywhere!

The joy of this exercise if you can do it anywhere!! Do it in the car, on the bus, waiting for class to start…you name it! All you have to do is concentrate on counting the seconds. This will also help to keep your mind distracted until the timing becomes more automatic.

3.      Practice!

The more you practice this technique the more automatic it comes. Begin with smaller amounts of time and try to build up to 10 or 15 minutes. Make sure that your timing or rhythm does not go astray. Once you have got the hang of it, start imagining yourself in different environments. Picture yourself somewhere peaceful, at the beach, in a field, in your bed or lying down somewhere peaceful. If you can focus on the image whilst maintaining your breathing technique you will be sure to feel really de-stressed after!

Get practicing…and remember…

Keep-Calm-and-Carry-On

Included here is an interview with Karen Duggan who has played soccer at an international level at underage and with the senior panel. She has also participated in the Champions League with her club team, Peaumount. During her Leaving Cert Karen mentions the importance of not getting bogged down and taking a step back at times. She also found that exercise was a great reliever of stress.

 

“Sure I only have five minutes, there’s no point in doing anything now!”

WRONG! There is of course a point…

An easy way of fitting some activity into your day is to use the ad break as a short but effective time for exercising! As you wait for these guys below to return to the screen, get up and get some serious exercise done instead of the usual trod to the fridge to see if any food has magically appeared in the last hour…which it hasn’t.

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Both strengthening and cardio exercises can be done in the luxury of your sitting room and a good work out can be done in just 5 short minutes. You don’t have to do all of the exercises below…pick and choose which ones you want to do!

Strengthening Exercises…

Couch press-ups… (works triceps, pectoralis, deltoids and abdominals…or if you’re looking for a break from the big words: arms, chest, shoulders and stomachs) Stand about 3 feet away from the couch. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on a cushion edge. Slowly bend your arms, and lower your upper body until your chest touches the couch. Push out to starting position.

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Side Crunch…  (works obliques/sides) Lie on your left side with your legs  together and your knees bent. Place your right hand behind your head with your elbow pointing toward the ceiling. Lift  your shoulder, bringing your rib cage  toward your hip. Hold, then slowly lower. Do this on both sides.

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Armchair dips… (works triceps) Sitting on the edge of a chair (or couch), place your hands on the edge on either side of you. Move your feet out so that your butt is off the chair, and your knees are bent at 90-degree angles. Lower yourself to ground and then push yourself back to starting position using your arms. To make this more difficult, put your feet further from the chair.

chair-dip-ex

Sit-ups… Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat, place your hands on either side of your head. Curl up and forward so that your head, neck and shoulder blades lift off the floor. Make sure you’re not pulling your head forward with your hands.

situp200

Squat Jumps… (works upper legs)Put your hands on your hips. Squat down until the top of your thighs are parallel to the floor- make sure your knee is not further forward than your toes.  As soon as you squat down, jump up as high as you can in an explosive movement and reach your hands up to the sky as though you’re celebrating at the end of June.

Jump-Squat

Plank… (works core) Get in the push-up position, with forearms on the ground. Your elbows should be directly underneath your shoulders. Toes on the ground. Squeeze your       glutes and tighten your abdominals. Keep a neutral neck and spine. Create a straight, strong line from head to toes – head, back, hips, knees and ankles should all be aligned.

plank1

Cardio exercises…to get that heart pumping…

Jumping jacks…just as effective now as they were in junior infants…just stretch those legs wider and reach your arms higher!

Climb the stairs…you might do it 10 times a day already but this time with a little more intensity…see how many times you can run up and down before the ad break finishes…try to beat your score next time!

Burpees…no, we don’t want you burping. A burpee goes as follows: Start standing, sit into squat, ands to the floor, kick your feet behind to a push-up position, pull your feet back in so you’re in squat position, jump up & clap.

burpees

Mountain Climbers…start in a press-up position. Bring your knee to your chest and back to starting position. Bring other knee to chest and back to starting position. Repeat and keep alternating legs. You’ll be climbing Everest in no time with this practice! 😛

mountainclimber

High knees…Simple but effective – jog on the spot bringing your knees up as high as you can in front of you.

Just Dance…let’s face it, Lady GaGa knows best…3 minutes of some seriously catchy ad-break-jingles…go crazy and dance like nobody’s watching!

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Remember set goals! This week, you might try to do ten reps/30 seconds of each exercise but next week, you may increase this to 12 reps/40 seconds. Challenge yourself.

In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; It is not really the time but the will that is lacking

“Is all this hassle really worth it though…?”

Hour after hour, day after day, week after week, you have that same thing on your mind…and I won’t even say it here because it’s mentioned so much. You wonder if it’s worth it? Of course it is. Think about it…where do you want to be in 5 days time, in 5 weeks time, in 5 months time, in 5 years time? What’s going to get you to that place? HARD WORK. Sometimes we lose sight of where we want to go in life which is why it’s a great help to set goals.

Why set goals?

–          Goals give you long-term vision

–          Goals give you short-term motivation

–          Goals help you organize your time so that you are getting the most out of your life with regrad to both exercise and schoolwork.

As well as the benefits of setting goals outlined above, there are many other reasons for setting goals for yourself. One of these is self-discipline which is very important if you are someone who is easily distracted, finds yourself off-task and procrastinates.  Goals also have the ability to be measured and on achievement you may feel pride and contentment in yourself for doing a good job! Goals also have the ability to boost self-confidence as you complete more goals…giving you an unmistakable Rocky Balboa feeling…

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How to set goals…

There are a number  of things to remember when going about setting yourself goals. I will break these down into a number of easy to follow steps!

1.      Big Picture

The first thing you must do is identify a big picture. Picture yourself in 5-10 years; what do you see? Where do you see yourself? Analyse this image and take the main findings from it. Then begin to break these down into smaller specific goals.

2.      Overall Perspective

It is really important that you don’t neglect certain aspects of your life whilst goal setting. So although some areas (E.g. study) may take precedent for a proportion of the year, it is still vitally important that you do not forget about the other areas of your life which is why we think you should set some goals regarding exercise are important too. Maybe you want to be able to do 10 sit-ups, maybe you want to run 10km…it’s up to you but make sure it’s realistic but challenging.

3.      Have ‘SMART’ Goals

‘SMART’ is a simple anagram used to remember the key aspects of goals.

S – Goals should be specific and precise, identify exactly what it is you wish to achieve. Use dates, times and amounts to keep these focused

M – Goals should be measurable; you should be able to identify whether you have achieved them or not.

A – Goals should be attainable and realistic. This may involve some reflection on past experiences in the area and decide what is achievable.

R – Goals should be relevant. They should really matter to you and have significance; you should be doing these for yourself and no-one else.

T – The last thing to remember is goals should be time-bound. They should be accomplishable within a certain time frame. If certain goals will take a long time, perhaps these may need to be broken down further so that you remain motivated and focused.

4.      Express Goals Positively

Make sure to always express your goals in a positive manner, refrain from saying ‘I wont’ or ‘Don’t’ and instead begin them with ‘I will.’

5.      Write Goals Down!

By writing your goals down it is like signing an imaginary contract with yourself. You are making the goals real and you also have the added satisfaction of crossing them off as you complete them!

6.      Reward yourself!

Last but not least it is very important that you acknowledge your achievements. By doing this it will encourage you to make and stick to goals in the future. So it is something as simple as a relaxing evening away from the books or with friends, make sure that the completion of your goals doesn’t go forgotten!

 

Now get goal-setting and remember you are doing this to get the most out of yourself and out of your time. You shouldn’t see this as a chore but the first step on the road to success!!

 

Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement”

Included is a short interview with Sarah Dolan who is currently in her final year in college studying Physical Education. At the moment she is playing senior football with Westmeath and believes that setting goals is vital for finding the balance between exercise and study.

Welcome to Exerstudy!

how-to-keep-mind-healthy-in-a-easy-way

So, the countdown to the big LC is well and truly underway. You’re up the walls and you’re worried that you know exactly how many floorboards are in your study room, that last night you dreamt of Macbeth and Mairtín Ó Díreáin taking a trip to the Mezzogiorno, that you’re only means of social contact is Facebook and that if you got a euro every time you underlined something in red in your notes copy, you’d be so rich you wouldn’t even have to think about doing your Leaving Cert.

It’s a stressful time, but that’s NOT to say that everything but study needs to be neglected until the end of June when the inevitable exam weather fizzles away, the clouds turn grey once again but you see the light with the burning of the pages and pages of notes taken over the past 2 years. Most importantly, EXERCISE cannot be neglected. We, as soon-to-be Physical Education teachers, as girls who have been stuck in the Leaving-Cert-rut, believe that exercise can only help exam performance and study. In this blog, we will give you advice and tips on how to strike a balance between exercise and academia and highlight the importance of this. And you don’t just have to take our word for it, we will be posting video interviews with a number of elite athletes who maintained a high level of physical activity throughout their Leaving Cert.

We cannot study for you. We cannot exercise for you. Only YOU can be the author of your own story. But we can give you the support you need to help you make the right decisions…the healthy decisions. Starting right now.

Your future is determined on what you do today, not tomorrow