Exam season never ceases to bring out the worst in many U of T students; we’re cranky from lack of sleep, dehydrated and malnourished from nights spent pounding Red Bulls and eating food truck meals; and are generally in pretty rough shape. The last thing any exam-riddled undergrad wants to hear is that they should be prioritizing their health, but you should. You might not have time for an hour workout, or home cooked healthy meal, but take heed of some of these tips and you’ll make it through your exams in peace, not pieces.
1. Focus on Compound Workouts
Forget the isolation exercises — its crunch time, which means you can’t afford to spend an hour doing bicep curls. Compound exercises incorporate two or more major muscle groups at a time, meaning you get to simultaneously save time and stay fit. Some of the best compound exercises include: the bench press, deadlift, and squat. While some other effective compound exercises include pull-ups, dips, and bent-over rows.
2. Take the stairs
Gym not your thing? Not to worry, you can still squeeze in a mini workout without even knowing it by taking the stairs at the various libraries on campus. This might even work to your benefit at Robarts because the 45-year-old elevators are still being serviced, which can find you waiting up to 15 minutes for a car, or force you to sneak a ride on the forbidden staff elevators. Walking up a floor of stairs burns roughly 10 calories which, admittedly, doesn’t seem like much, but do it a couple of times (especially if you’re up on 13), and you’ll have put in a pretty good workout. If your bag is too heavy, you’re too tired, or some other excuse, at least try taking the stairs down.
3. Run in the Morning
Not only is running a healthy habit to pickup, but it can also be especially useful in helping clear your mind before a day of studying. Exam time is hectic. Running will help put you in a peaceful state of mind, and allows you to plan out the rest of your day before it actually starts. If you prefer to run indoors, the AC field house track is open for drop-in for all U ofT students. The track may be closed on some days for track meets. Details can be found on the Faculty of Kinesiology’s website.
4. Put Down the Sweets
Eating a bunch of sugary snacks may seem like a good idea at first, but not only is this ineffective in keeping your hunger in check, snacking on junk food will also affect the amount of energy you have to focus. If you want to be efficient, make sure you eat meals high in protein and fibre in order to keep you full for longer. Drinking a lot of water also helps. Avoiding snacking for good is the best way to save your diet, but if snacking is something you want to do, then make sure to put down the candy and granola bars and instead choose healthier alternatives such as nuts, veggies, and fruits.