Brains and Brawn

Don't Sacrifice Your Workout During Finals

Midterms are in the air, and the stress of the semester is kicking in. Between schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and overloaded social schedules, everyone's days are packed. When it comes to prioritizing, working out often ends up at the bottom of the list. Time that was once free for exercising, now seems to have completely disappeared in lieu of other commitments. 

While it's tempting to drop your workout routine completely, studies have revealed that a healthy lifestyle of fitness can actually benefit your academic performance.  Specifically, a study by Harvard Medical School shows that "exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills."

That said, a high-intensity workout right before a test has actually been shown to decrease mental performance. So keep the workouts light and don’t do anything too physically straining right before a tough exam. But getting in a good workout doesn’t have to take hours away from precious study time either. Here are different exercises that can combine working out and studying.

Photo by Julia B.

Photo by Julia B.

Bringing Flashcards on Your Run

Yeah, this sounds insane, but give it a shot. Download a flashcard app for your phone and get to work! Just read a card and memorize it while you’re running! Plus, note cards can keep your mind occupied during a run and make the run easier.

Photo by Julia B.

Photo by Julia B.


The greatest thing about planks is that you can plank anywhere (think back to the internet fad of 2011). This exercise is simple enough, and it’s great for your core. Mix it up for a full body workout while you’re cramming for tomorrow's exam.

Photo by Julia B.

Photo by Julia B.

Stationary Bike

Do you have multiple chapters to read before your 8 a.m. test? We've all been there. A stationary bike allows free movement with your arms so it's easy to flip the page of a book while still getting in some much-needed cardio.

Additional tips:

  • Try changing your workout music to study music. This could include class recordings, online tutorials, or audiobooks.
  • If none of these options work for you, use a workout to take a brief break from studying. Going on a jog or taking a yoga class can ease stress levels without sacrificing much productivity.

The list doesn’t stop here! If you or a friend has other helpful, creative ideas to balance a studious-but-fit lifestyle, please leave them in the comments below.

Be well, Auburn.

Photography: Julia B.

Catherine (aka Cat) is from Birmingham, Alabama, majoring in aerospace engineering. Her hobbies include exploring new places, eating bananas, and “doing something crazy.”  An avid picture-taker, she works as a photographer for Campus Recreation Team Marketing.

Cat is a self-proclaimed nerd. When not with a camera in hand, you can probably find her fangirling about Elon Musk and his newest engineering breakthroughs (think Hyperloop).

Other than physics and photography, Cat enjoys being around people. She is nothing without Jesus and has a strong passion for The Lord. She encourages the happiness of others by sharing a smile and advocating a healthy lifestyle. 

Check out Cat’s photography of everyday campus moments on Be Well.