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Get Fit While Studying

You’re so busy you’re overwhelmed. Your profs are all conspiring with papers and exams due at the same time, your mom complains you never call and the weekend is packed. Who has time to hit the gym? Let’s put the same hour to double purpose and knock off some studying WHILE working out. Here’s seven ways to get started:

  1. iPod It. Is your prof hip enough to record class lectures? If not, ask permission to record them yourself. Instead of reviewing notes of class lectures, listen to the lectures a second or third time. VangoNotes has textbook chapter summaries and reviews in MP3 format and Amazon sells iTunes downloads for contemporary books and classic literature. Strap your iPod to your arm and hop on the treadmill or the rowing machine. If you have a 4G iPod with an H2O Audio adapter, you can even study while swimming laps!
  2. Put the magazine rack to better use. When you hop on the elliptical, instead of clipping on People or Cosmo for your work-out distraction, bring your textbook along. You need that chapter read by tomorrow AND you need your cardio—put in an hour towards both and you’ll have time off tonight to hang with your friends!
  3. Use the card. Spanish test coming up? Organize the material on index cards. Stick them in your back pocket and head to the track. Run sprints and take a 30-second rest between each one by reviewing one index card. Take those index cards with you to the gym for weight training, too. When you pause to rest between sets, you can review one or two cards. (Just don’t do it if someone else is waiting for the station, or you’ll be breaking the rules of gym etiquette.)
  4. Writing requires thinking. Contrary to popular opinion, first draft does NOT equal final draft. Writing requires thinking. Brainstorming. Refining ideas. Revising. Improving. Put the time required for all of that mental effort to good use; creativity often happens when we relax. Sign up for a yoga or Pilates class at the campus fitness center. Show up 15 minutes early and claim your mat space. While you wait for class, review the requirements for the paper and skim your research notes. Tuck a pen and paper under the edge of your mat. Let the topic go during class. During the relaxation session at the end of class, let your mind wander—as soon as class is over, write down your thoughts about the project. Working out your body also helps you sharpen and focus your mind. So a great workout can lead to great ideas about how to tackle that assignment!
  5. Request an audience. Got a speech or presentation coming up? Before the big day, ask a trusted friend to join you for an after-dinner walk. Practice your speech with him or her while you get in some exercise. Get your friend to ask questions to prep you for what your professor and classmates might ask. With a little help from your friend, you’ll work out the kinks in your talk while working out your muscles; just be sure to repay the favor!
  6. Netflix it. Reading Hamlet for English lit? Move the Kenneth Branaugh version to the top of your queue. Struggling through The Taming of the Shrew? 10 Things I Hate About You will help. Not sure you’re making sense of the complicated verse in Persuasion? Track down the BBC production of Jane Austen’s most mature work. Give yourself a movie night with a kick—every fifteen minutes, hit the floor for one set of sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks. If you’ve got a Gazelle in your room, make like the wind for a half-hour at a time. Just make sure you use the video as a supplement and actually read the text—Hollywood has a way of taking liberties with plot that could hurt you if Keira Knightley is your only experience with Pride and Prejudice.
  7. Work the Fam. You know they miss you—miss being involved and being needed. Cut your folks some slack, and help yourself in the process—before your next exam, e-mail your Mom or Dad key terms and study questions. Put in your ear bud and dial Mom or Dad as you head for a run. They’ll be ecstatic to feel useful as they quiz you about the material AND will take comfort in knowing all that tuition money is going towards good grades. Just make sure those runs are on a track away from cars and traffic.

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