Fit Facts: Eat well, stay active during finals week to reduce stress


Fit Facts

By Blake Glosson

The dreaded finals week is here. It’s time to kiss life goodbye, forget about exercise and diet and embrace stress, right? Not so fast.

This might seem like the best way to deal with finals; however, following these common patterns will likely do you more harm than good.

Let’s start by addressing your exercise regime. For most people, exercise is one of the first things to get kicked under the rug during busy periods of life such as finals week. But, a small investment in exercise can improve cognitive function — something every student could use more of these next few days.

“[Exercise] helps you to feel better, it helps you … to look better, but it [also] helps you to think better, so [students] need that more than any other time during this stressful week,” said kinesiology instructor Angela Miller.

Sure, getting a workout in is going to rob you of 30 to 60 minutes you could be studying. But, let’s be honest: Who doesn’t spend at least that much time each day getting distracted by social media or television while trying to study?

“Finals week is when a lot of students will say ‘Oh, I don’t have time to work out’… [but,] you’re going to find that you probably have 30 minutes a day that you could sneak away to do a workout or a walk,” Miller said.

If you need a break from studying, move around. This could give you the mental edge you need to think clearly and thrive on your exams.

Additionally, it’s important to eat right. Just like exercise, eating healthy will take planning and self-control, but the payoffs are worth it.

“Staying hydrated can reduce some of the negative impacts of stress on the body, as [does] eating healthy snacks,” said Andrea Drott, health educator at Health Enhancement. “Having comfort foods in moderation is definitely OK … [but] moderation is key.”

If you’re looking for energy in sugary beverages and processed snack foods, you’re in the wrong place. They might give you short-term energy but will quickly lead to fatigue and can impair your ability to focus.

Instead, get nutrient-dense foods into your diet. Consuming sufficient vitamins, minerals and healthy fats can help brain function, energy production and memory retention.

If you’re looking for quick, nutritious choices to aid your studying, throw together a fresh fruit salad, a bowl of pumpkin seeds or cook some fish tacos with whole-grain tortillas.

Once you get your diet and exercise routines in check, make sure your mindset is in the right place.

Start visualizing the success you will have this week. What’s past is past; make the most of today. If you study hard, everything else will work itself out.

There’s no need to fear finals week. Treat your body right, keep things in perspective and take pride in your work. Do these things and finals week will fear you.