If you're juggling sports and exams, we'd like to express our sympathy and give you our whole-hearted support!
And if you can afford a 5 minute break in your revision to glance through this article, we can offer you some useful advice on how to keep doing a minimum of exercise during the revision period, as well as some explanations on what benefits such physical activity can offer you when you're in the middle of an intellectual marathon.
You no longer have to put exercise aside during the month of June!
Is It a Good Idea to do Exercise Over the Revision Period?
It can be physically strenuous to revise at a time of year when you'd rather be diving into the water than into your books.
If you're in the middle of an exam marathon, there's a great temptation to put your trainers aside and concentrate on your revision game rather than on your running technique. And if, on top of that, you have a constant urge to check the daily football results- for example, it can definitely be said that mixing sports and exams is no walk in the park.
And yet, keeping a little time free to do so some exercise can be a big help when it comes to the crunch: so you can vault the exam obstacles and reach the finish line in time to enjoy the last phase of the current international race - just hazarding a guess, here!
Make Sure You Keep Moving During Exam Periods
Doing physical activity every day is a great way to grant yourself well-deserved breaks during your exam period. A fifteen-minute or half-hour break after a multi-hour revision session allows you to refresh your mind and relax. Ideally, make the most of it to get some fresh air. A quick jog, bike ride or even walk gives you a boost of oxygen so you can go back to your revision with your mind crystal-clear.
If you don't have the time to go out and refresh your mind, or if the weather is that little bit too fresh, your can take exercise breaks at home. In that case, we'd advise you to do whatever it is you most need - to relax or let off steam - at your own pace: Yoga, for instance, brings lots of benefits in the evening, while in the morning, you could have a good go at the punching bag.
How Can I Combine Training and Revision?
If you regularly do a particular physical activity, the exam and revision period are a time to... keep right on doing it! I'm not joking - your training sessions give you the opportunity to recharge your batteries, let off steam and socialise. In short, they take your stress away while allowing you to physically exert yourself and thus stop thinking about your exams for a moment.
The aim of the game is therefore to organise your timetable so as to avoid eating up your beloved sports sessions during the revision period.
Here's a good example of this, from the perspective of Laurence, SRM Communications Manager at Decathlon, whose daughter Celestine is doing her A-levels this year:
“She normally does 12 hours of gymnastics a week. She's had to change that over the revision period, and so she's watching Youtube videos instead and following the moves. That way she can let off steam; and she's also going to the gym fifteen minutes a day.”
We're talking about the sports you do, not the sports you watch on TV, obviously - this is not about checking the football results after reading this article! Just because I'm going to doesn't mean you should. In the next part, in fact, we're going to describe the benefits you can get from doing exercise during your exam period.
The Benefits of Exercising Over the Exam Period
Quite apart from blending the useful with the pleasant as you revise for your GCSEs or A-levels, you'll get a whole bunch of benefits if you carry on doing exercise over the revision period.
As you've already got plenty on your mind at this most intense time of year, we'll start with one that's easy to remember:
Move your body to stimulate your neurons
Let's start with the most obvious bit: doing sport during the exam period is the perfect way to let off steam! After long hours sitting at your desk with your neurons buzzing away in top gear, it's high time to stretch your legs, fill your lungs and empty your head. And that's not all; your sports sessions give you the added advantage of keeping you fit. This is your opportunity to get rid of stress and weariness, and to stock up on energy.
The other advantage of letting off steam and stockpiling endorphins is that you'll find it easier to go to sleep... and there's nothing like a sound night's sleep to help you recover! Which is definitely a plus when your memory and intellectual capacities are having to work at Olympian levels.
So, now that you're starting to get some idea of the benefits of doing some jump rope and a few stretches when you need to take a breather, let's address exactly that: your breathing. Mastering your own breathing is one of the most fundamental requirements of sport, and it's a skill that can help you manage your stress and concentration levels during your exams.
Which brings us to the last part of this article: how sport benefits you mentally.
A Sporting Mindset for Your Exams
If you're feeling a bit slack during exam time and you've skipped over the first part of this article, let us remind you about one of the greatest advantages of sport: it relieves stress. It even puts you in a good mood and gives you a chance to have fun with your friends/family, and talk about something other than those exams! As we haven't had the chance to interview students in the full-blown maelstrom of their exam period (no time, apparently), we turned to their parents to find out how they're experiencing the whole thing. Andrew, leader of the Content Internationalisation team at DECATHLON, tells us about his son, Thomas, who's doing his A-levels this year: “He's still doing martial arts and football, even though he's put his training on pause during the revision period. He plays football with his brother to let off steam. It helps him manage his stress levels, but I generally push him to work. Right now, he's mainly learning to revise.”
The point is that your sports experiences can provide you with lots of tools to deal with revision and exams. The ability to get motivated, the urge to challenge yourself, the ability to visualise success and set goals, the capacity to manage stress and handle setbacks, are all good habits you get from sport that can equally be applied when you need get the strategic upper hand over your next essay: or to tackle your upcoming oral exam the same way you'd climb into the ring, with your toothguard on for better pronunciation :).
And finally, let's round it all off with a last little gem, the most obvious of all: the massive confidence boost you get from the joy of sport, that'll do you a world of good during your exams. Even if that means having to beat your brother at football between revision sessions and absolutely thrashing the poor boy... just to make you feel better about missing the football World Cup / Roland Garros / Critérium du Dauphiné over the revision period.
So, are you all set for your exams?
We hope you've enjoyed this article, please don't hesitate to share your own tips and tricks with us about how to let off steam during these tough times.
And, until you can get fully back into sport, we wish you the best of luck!